KLM joins air battle to take stake in British Midland

KLM, THE Dutch national carrier, confirmed yesterday that it has joined the dogfight to take a stake in British Midland Airways.

Leo van Wijk, KLM president, told reporters that KLM, and its partners Alitalia and Northwest Airlines, had been invited to submit a bid for a stake in the British short-haul carrier.

The Derby-based airline has said it is also holding talks with the Delta Airlines-Air France grouping and members of the Star Alliance about a link-up to develop its business.

"We're currently in talks with British Midland about how they view their position in an alliance," Mr van Wijk was reported as saying. "They have invited three alliances to come up with a proposition ... We have been asked to make a bid for part of the company."

Scandinavian Airline Service, a member of the Star Alliance, holds a 40 per cent stake in British Midland. Analysts say if British Midland declines to join Star, this stake would pass to the successful grouping.

Industry-watchers play down KLM's chances of success, however, saying that any link with British Midland could face severe scrutiny from regulators over the potential concentration of UK-European routes.

British Midland is attractive to other carriers because it holds about 14 per cent of the take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, the world's busiest airport. A link-up may give fellow alliance members access to British Midland's slots. It could also help British Midland achieve its long-stated desire of running trans-Atlantic services out of Heathrow.

At present, the so-called Bermuda II agreement restricts to just four the numbers of airlines permitted to operate direct services between Heathrow and the United States.

"The first objective is to come up with a joint proposal that would satisfy British Midland," Mr van Wijk was quoted saying. "The intention is to finalise in the next couple of months."

Such a timetable would be slower than British Midland officials have been hinting at. Three weeks ago, the company said an announcement on a deal was "imminent".

Mr van Wijk also said that KLM was on track to merge with Alitalia, the Italian flag carrier. The pair announced an in-depth tie-up in July and operations are expected to start from November.

"We did not commit to this [merger]. But I see it as very likely that we will do it," Mr van Wijk said.

British Midland has been pushing to have Bermuda II re-negotiated, running a campaign of television and newspaper adverts this month.

Some of its 19 code-sharing arrangements, which include a link with Air France, are likely to be scaled back if it joins an alliance.

Code-sharing allows airlines to carry each other's passengers on connecting services and to share computer booking codes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review