Lufthansa to sign joint venture deal with Air China this weekend: paper

FRANKFURT Sat Jul 5, 2014 6:58am EDT

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German airline Lufthansa's new Chief Executive Carsten Spohr aims to sign a deal with Air China during Chancellor Angela Merkel's state visit to Beijing this weekend, a German newspaper reported.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on Saturday, citing no sources, that Lufthansa and Air China planned to set up a joint venture which would allow them to share revenue on certain Asian routes by selling tickets for each other's flights. The report did not specify the routes involved.

A spokesman for Lufthansa said he could neither confirm nor deny the report. An Air China spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

The news comes only days before CEO Spohr is due to present his new strategy for Lufthansa, which has struggled to keep up with competition from low-cost and Gulf rivals.

The German carrier has been in talks with Air China for months as it seeks to strengthen its position in Asia, where Dubai-based Emirates [EMIRA.UL] and Turkish Airlines have been expanding.

Finance chief Simone Menne in May declined to say what a deal with Air China could entail but pointed to Lufthansa's successful joint ventures with other Asian carriers such as Japan's ANA.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Pravin Char)