Julian Moxon/PARIS

The Swissair Group has revealed its interest in taking a stake of up to 10% in TAP Air Portugal, and is set to complete a link with Italian carrier Air One which will see it taking a significant shareholding in the Alitalia rival.

Swissair's interest in a TAP stake follows the signing of a technical and commercial agreement on co-operation between the two airlines in September 1997. The purchase will be linked to the privatisation of the 100% state-owned Portuguese flag carrier, which is expected in 1999. The amount to be paid will be dependent on the valuation of the airline, still to be carried out.

An extension of the original deal has also been signed, covering the development of a joint reservations and booking system. Other co-operation agreements are expected, says Swissair, including time- table harmonisation, maintenance and ground-handling activities.

In a further development, Swissair has concluded a partnership agreement with Italy's Air One, and is reportedly set to take a "substantial" minority holding. Although the shareholding has not been confirmed, it is said to be in the region of 30%.

The link with Swissair will see Air One joining the Global alliance formed by the Swiss flag carrier and Austrian Airlines, Delta and Sabena, providing the Group with an Italian partner. Alitalia recently selected KLM as its main European ally, rejecting both Air France and Swissair.

Swissair already holds 49.5% of Sabena and 10% of Austrian Airlines, along with 67.9% of Swiss regional Crossair - which in turn is taking a 40% share in a new subsidiary, Crossair Europe, to be based at Basle-Mulhouse.

The carrier adds that it "-does not exclude" participation in French airline AOM, with which it has already agreed a commercial alliance, giving it access for the first time to the French market. Discussions on the extent of the accord, including whether to introduce a codesharing agreement, are still under way.

Source: Flight International