KLM is to unveil plans to rebrand its European airline partners, co-ordinating the separate companies' images more closely with its own.

Air UK is set to cement its role as the UK arm of KLM by unveiling a new image and renaming itself "KLM UK". The new name will be officially unveiled on 30 January, and KLM is holding a simultaneous briefing at is base at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to out- line the rebranding of its continental European airline partners, which include Air Exel Commuter, Braathens SAFE, Eurowings and KLMCityHopper.

It is understood that Air UK's new image will be closer to that of KLM, with its aircraft repainted in a new scheme consisting of a pale-blue top and white underside.

Oslo, Norway-based Braathens, 30% owned by KLM, has already announced that it will move its London flights at the end of March from Gatwick to Air UK's hub at Stansted. The airline says that, free of Gatwick slot restrictions, it will expand flights from London to Norway, to 16 a week.

Braathens already carries KLM symbols on its aircraft and has studied a rebranding to provide a more international image.

Meanwhile, airline sources suggest that Air UK needs aircraft larger than its Fokker 100s and British Aerospace 146-300s and is believed to be close to a deal to lease at least two Boeing 737-400s.

Source: Flight International