KLM could be close to tying up an Asia-Pacific partner for its global alliance after opening co-operation discussions with Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

The two carriers are now carrying out joint studies on opportunities for linking their networks, with the aim of emerging with a detailed agreement in the next few months. The aim is to codeshare on all services between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur, while KLM is also interested in linking with MAS services throughout the region and to "a number" of Australian cities. MAS would equally link with KLM's European network.

Co-operation would also extend to the usual areas of ground handling, loyalty programmes, joint marketing and sales. It would also open the way for MAS to join in KLM's growing global alliance, including Northwest Airlines and recently signed-up European partner Alitalia, which itself has been looking for a Far East alliance.

KLM and MAS have been operating joint cargo services between their two hubs since mid-1996, and the Dutch carrier says that it is already planning to move from five passenger flights a week to Kuala Lumpur to a daily service with its summer schedule. It adds that the new KLIA airport being built to serve the Malaysian capital will provide growth potential.

Source: Flight International