Marco Messalla/ROME

Swissair and Italian independent Air One expect to finalise details of a strategic alliance by the end of May in a move which is expected to see the Swiss flag carrier take a share in the airline.

The Italian carrier was created in 1995 in a bid to combat Alitalia's monopoly on domestic routes. Swissair is seeking to gain market share in what is seen as an increasingly dynamic market. It is expected to take a 49% stake in Air One.

The deal is designed to counter Alitalia's strong presence at the renovated Milan Malpensa Airport, with its increasingly lucrative business derived from northern Italian cities.

Air One and Swissair will operate a network of international and intercontinental destinations, which will be served by Air One from Malpensa. Feeder services will also be operated by the Italian airline on a mix of code-shared and independent flights between Bologna, Venice, other Italian destinations and Zurich.

The Italian airline, which flies 11 Boeing 737-200s, -300s and -400s, and two McDonnell Douglas DC-9-10s, will begin operations from Bologna and Venice in June using a Saab 2000 wet-leased from Crossair. International services will not begin until its 1998 winter season, as the carrier is still awaiting rights from the Italian authorities. to operate on non-European Union routes

Air One competes directly with airlines such as Air Europe, the Alitalia Team, Eurofly and Lauda Air, for rights to several mainly tourist destinations.

Source: Flight International