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Alitalia in talks with Swissair, American-source

Alitalia in talks with Swissair, American-source

Old Sep 28, 00, 9:55 am
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Alitalia in talks with Swissair, American-source

Information source: http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/000927/l27394100_3.html

ROME, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Italian national carrier Alitalia is holding partnership talks with Swissair and U.S. carrier American Airlines (NYSE:AMR - news), a company source said on Wednesday.

``Alitalia's aim is to link up with American Airlines, which after the collapse of talks with British Airways (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: BAY.L) is looking for a European partner and which already has commercial agreements with Swissair,'' a company source told Reuters.

``(Swissair) is also another company with which Alitalia is in the process of negotiating,'' the source said. Swissair, which is a unit of SAirGroup , signed commercial accords with American Airlines in the summer.

``The negotiations are not at a final stage, but will need more time,'' the source cautioned.

Swissair declined to comment on the report, while American's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Donald Carty declined to confirm it.

``We don't really comment about those kinds of discussions,'' Carty told Reuters in San Jose, Calif. ``What Alitalia is saying is they are talking to everyone ... We are still in the early days of the formation of these international alliances. Anytime anyone wants to talk to us, American is ready to talk.''

Alitalia has been looking for a partner since a planned tie-up between Alitalia and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines collapsed earlier this year.

At the end of that deal, Alitalia declared it could not go it alone in the European airline industry. Its search for a partner has been at the centre of media speculation and conflicting reports ever since.

Just last week, an Alitalia spokesman said the carrier was holding talks with both Air France and Swissair with a view of forging an alliance. An industry source said later Alitalia would choose between the two by the end of October.

But a deal with American Airlines, the world's second-biggest airline, and Swissair would effectively take Air France out of the picture.

Alitalia's executive have said in the past the company was looking for a partner both in Europe and in the United States, though did not specify any U.S. airline. In July, Alitalia denied a press report saying it was in talks with American Airlines.

As for Swissair, sources at the company first talked of negotiations between the Swiss and the Italian airlines in mid-June.

Alitalia Chief Executive Domenico Cempella this week held a series of meetings to discuss the company's industrial plan.

Alitalia said Cempella met on Wednesday with Cabinet Under-secretary Enrico Micheli for ``informal talks,'' but denied he saw Transport Minister Pierluigi Bersani to discuss international alliances.

Alitalia is 53-percent owned by the government and would therefore need its approval before striking an alliance.
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