French independent airline AOM has agreed a "commercial and industrial" alliance with Swissair. Switzerland is not a member of the European Union (EU), and the alliance with AOM will provide Swissair with access to the lucrative French internal market for the first time.

The deal, which is expected to take effect on 1 November, follows similar moves by rivals which saw the takeover in 1996 of another independent, Air Liberté, by British Airways, and the recent alliance between Air Littoral and German flag carrier Lufthansa.

The main area of agreement provides for a codesharing arrangement between AOM, the second largest airline in France, and Swissair, on six routes between France and Switzerland not yet served by the French carrier. They are Paris Charles de Gaulle to Zurich and Geneva, Nice, Lyon and Marseille to Zurich, and Nice to Geneva.

Maintenance, catering and ground handling are also to be shared, and Swissair will provide commercial assistance with overseas marketing, mainly by providing ticketing for AOM passengers connecting with Swissair flights.

Source: Flight International