Joint ventures and airport co-location on SkyTeam horizon

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SkyTeam is looking at other opportunities for joint-venture agreements within the alliance, building on the expanded co-operation pact already in place for some of its members on transatlantic routes.

The alliance earlier this year added Italian carrier Alitalia to the transatlantic venture already incorporating Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines, established last year.

"It is clear the closer you co-operate, the bigger the synergies you achieve," said SkyTeam chairman Leo van Wijk during a press conference in Paris. "We will intensify the co-operation between our members.

He notes that in China, KLM and China Southern already co-operate. He says there maybe further opportunities possible when its new Chinese partners, China Eastern and Shanghai Airlines, join next year.

"[Joint ventures] may be used in some different forms in other parts of the world," he says.

The alliance will also look to step up its co-location projects at airports. It has identified airports in seven cities - Athens, Brussels, Budapest, Cairo, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Venice - as targets for co-location in 2011.

"Up until now we have been opportunistic," explains SkyTeam managing director Marie-Joseph Male, pointing out that so far it has largely taken advantage of airport projects and refurbishments to co-locate its airlines.

"What the governing board wants is a more systematic programme. So there are airports we want to put the focus on in 2011."