Air France mulls German angle in Etihad talks- CEO

FRANKFURT Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:18pm EDT

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Air France-KLM is considering a partnership with Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad that includes the German domestic routes of Air Berlin (AB1.DE), a German newspaper quoted the chief executive of the Franco-Dutch airline as saying.

Etihad owns just under 30 percent of Air Berlin, which is Germany's second biggest carrier but is struggling to return to profit.

Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) has already said that the Abu Dhabi carrier had proposed a partnership on some routes.

"A partnership with Etihad would only make sense for us on the Paris-Abu Dhabi route and to other hubs," Jean-Cyril Spinetta was quoted as saying in Die Welt on Saturday.

"On the other hand, a wider partnership would be possible, if it included Air Berlin and its network in the German market."

Air France-KLM, which made a net loss of 809 million euros in 2011, is currently undergoing a restructuring programme that includes lower aircraft investments and an overhaul of the European passenger network at its French arm.

Spinetta told the paper the group was keen to expand on routes to China to serve Chinese tourists who want to come to Europe, but wanted to give a new route to Wuhan a chance to settle in before looking at more destinations in the country.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by Patrick Graham)

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