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Business

Air Berlin and France-KLM forge alliance

Germany's Air Berlin and the Franco-Dutch Air France-KLM have announced a deal under which they will soon start marketing some of each other's flights. The accord is meant to help both carriers to expand their reach.

Air Berlin and Air France-KLM announced on Monday they'd agreed to jointly market some of their flights as a first initial step towards a larger strategic alliance.

Germany's second largest carrier and the Franco-Dutch airline signed a so-called codeshare deal which they said would come into effect on October. Such accords enable passengers to buy a single ticket for multiple airlines.

For the carriers involved, the codeshare deals are first and foremost meant to expand their reach without having to operate additional routes. As a result of the new partnership, Air Berlin will be able to offer flights to nine destinations in France instead of three at the moment. Air France-KLM for its part will be able to market flights to more destinations in Germany, Poland and Austria.

Distorted competition?

Rapidly expanding Gulf carrier Etihad Airways, which holds a 29-percent stake in Air Berlin, signed an additional codeshare agreement with Air France-KLM. It's designed to lead to a bigger deal on frequent flier programs, procurement and maintenance.

Air Berlin's codeshare activities are a thorn in the side of its biggest domestic competitor and Germany's flagship carrier, Lufthansa, which is a member of the world's strongest aviation lobby group, Star Alliance.

Lufthansa has been particularly critical of any cooperation with Etihad and other Persian Gulf carriers such as Emirates and Qatar Airlines. It believes that those state-owned carriers have enjoyed an unfair competitive advantage by being heavily supported by their respective governments.

hg/msh (Reuters, AP, dapd)