BA to take equity stake in Polish airline

British Airways is planning to take an equity stake in LOT, the Polish airline with which it forged a strategic alliance yesterday, its first with a carrier from a former eastern bloc country. LOT is due to be privatised as part of the Polish government's liberalisation programme and Charles Gurassa, director of passenger business at BA, said it would consider buying shares at that stage.

The alliance with LOT will involve a code-sharing agreement on flights on the Manchester-Warsaw and Gatwick-Krakow routes, reciprocal participation in frequent-flyers programmes and co-operation between the Polish airline and BA's German subsidiary Deutsche BA. The deal means that BA now has strategic alliances with three European airlines - the other two are Iberia and Finnair. But Mr Garussa said it was keen to build further partnerships. There are at least twelve European carriers yet to sign up to one of the global alliances such as Star which are coming to dominate the aviation market. They include Aer Lingus, Portugalia, Maersk in Denmark, Meridiana of Italy, Olympic of Greece, El Al and the Russian airline Aeroflot.

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