(Corrects paragraph three, dropping reference to Emirates)
FRANKFURT Oct 22 Air France wants Air
Berlin to join its SkyTeam alliance of airlines around
the world and abandon its membership of the rival oneworld
grouping, according to a newspaper interview with the French
carrier's chief executive.
Air France-KLM, Air Berlin and Abu Dhabi's Etihad,
the German airline's biggest shareholder, said on Oct. 8 they
plan to start connecting their networks from Oct. 28 under an
agreement to share some route codes.
Air France-KLM is a member of SkyTeam but Air Berlin is a
member of oneworld, which includes British Airways,
AMR's American Airlines, Cathay Pacific
Alexandre de Juniac, Air France's chief executive, told
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview published on
Monday that a new partnership with Abu Dhabi's Etihad and Air
Berlin would have to first learn how to work together and then
draw up an assessment after one year.
"With Air Berlin we want to expand the important markets of
Germany and eastern Europe. W e know the airline well," de Juniac
was quoted as saying.
"Together with it we can defend ourselves better against the
low-cost airlines. If w e further work closer together along the
way Air Berlin must decide if it would stick to the oneworld
alliance or switch to the SkyTeam alliance of AirFrance-KLM," he
Asked to comment on de Juniac's comments, a spokeswoman for
Air Berlin told Reuters: "The membership in the airline alliance
oneworld has developed positively both for Air Berlin and for
oneworld. The Air Berlin membership in oneworld is independent
of the potential code-sharing with other airlines."
Some analysts said oneworld provides limited scope for
expansion for Air Berlin and the German carrier is now likely to
get more enmeshed with Etihad's network connections after the
latter boosted its stake in it to 29.21 percent last December.
Etihad is not aligned with any of the three global marketing
alliances - SkyTeam, oneworld and the Star Alliance, whose
members include Deutsche Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines
and Air China.
"The primary oneworld carriers operating in Germany have
retained their operations at Frankfurt and thus provide little
connectivity for Air Berlin's hub operation in Berlin," Morgan
Stanley said in a note on Oct. 5.
"We also believe Etihad is proving to have a stronger
influence on Air Berlin's strategy than oneworld," it added.
(Reporting by Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Greg Mahlich)