Air France KLM, Veolia in rail alliance talks

PARIS - Air France KLM, the world's biggest airline by revenues, confirmed on Friday it was considering offering high-speed rail travel and will adjust its winter seat capacity in the face of soaring jet fuel costs.

By (Reuters)

Published: Fri 4 Jul 2008, 2:50 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:46 PM

The Franco-Dutch airline pulled out of a bid to rescue Italy's Alitalia earlier this year and competes with the emerging transatlantic partnership of British Airways Plc, AMR Corp's American Airlines and Spain's Iberia.

On Friday, it confirmed media reports it was discussing a high-speed rail alliance with Veolia -- a French utility that runs several rail connections but is not yet active in high-speed travel, which is dominated by state-owned railways SNCF, Deutsche Bahn and the equally state controlled Thalys and Eurostar firms.

‘As part of the opening to competition of rail transport in 2010, Air France and Veolia are looking into the possibility of a partnership to create a new high-speed rail player on the European scene,’ an Air France-KLM spokesman said.

‘We are reviewing the feasibility and possibility of such a project, but it is too early to discuss its terms,’ he added.

Veolia Transport, part of French water utility Veolia, could run trains under the Air France brand from the airline's hub at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to destinations across Europe, the Financial Times said on Friday.

The move could mark the beginning of a decline in short-haul air travel on routes such as Paris-Frankfurt, which now enjoy good high-speed links, the paper said.

Air France has been exploring for four years the possibility of using rail to complement its air services.

The Financial Times also said Veolia had confirmed it was in talks with Air France.

Separately, Les Echos and La Tribune said Air France-KLM could slow down its capacity increase for next winter in the face of surging oil prices.

‘The increase in (capacity) offer will not be as strong a expected due to high oil prices. Detailed figures will be provided in mid-September when the group unveils its 2008/09 winter programme,’ the spokesman said.

By 0732 GMT, Air France-KLM shares were down 1.46 percent at 14.19 euros, while Veolia shares were off 0.84 percent at 34.36 euros.

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