Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

Lufthansa's rapidly expanding flight planning subsidiary Lido will launch a flight management system (FMS) navigation database service in April and is forming an aeronautical charting joint venture company with SAS and Air France.

The German company's entry into the FMS data market follows its abortive attempt to buy the existing database operated by Swissair, which pulled out of the deal early in 1999 after Lido had performed due diligence. Lido managing director Ralf Cabos says the company is developing its own FMS database and soliciting customers for an April launch. Lido has opened an office in Zurich, taking on former Swissair staff who had maintained that company's FMS database.

Swissair Flight Support is responsible for supplying FMS data to Swissair, KLM, SAS and Air France, which jointly own the Zurich database as the "KSSA" group, as well as to a large number of external customers. But Lido's plans have put KSSA's future in doubt, and Swissair has confirmed that talks have begun on its dissolution. SAS and Air France, and possibly KLM, may eventually join Lido to form the new FMS data joint venture company.

Industry sources say Swissair Flight Support is no longer for sale and is instead pursuing co-operation with Lido rival and dominant market player Jeppesen, although Swissair says it no plans for "specific co-operation".

Meanwhile, Lido, SAS Flight Support and Air France Aeronautical are to formalise their previously announced charting tie-up by establishing a standalone joint venture in April.

The three currently operate as a "virtual company" through which they market and supply each other's products.

Source: Flight International