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Austrian switches from Swiss to German alliance

(AP) -- National carrier Austrian Airlines said Tuesday that it was pulling out of a European alliance with Swissair and Sabena to join Germany's Lufthansa and United States partner United Airlines.

This content was published on September 21, 1999 - 15:16

(AP) -- National carrier Austrian Airlines said Tuesday that it was pulling out of a European alliance with Swissair and Sabena to join Germany's Lufthansa and United States partner United Airlines.

The company said in a statement that, following a detailed evaluation of all options for alliances, it believed it would be better off in Lufthansa's Star Alliance rather than Swissair parent SAirGroup's Qualiflyer Group.

The decision was made in spite of a last-ditch attempt by SAirGroup to retain Austrian by making a new offer. Austrian partners Lauda Air and Tyrolean Airways will leave with Austrian.

The Swiss company reacted by saying it would probably now sell its 10 percent stake in Austrian. The switch will take effect at the end of next March.

"We are sorry to see Austrian go," SAirGroup chief executive Philippe Bruggisser said in a statement.

"It's an emotional loss primarily. Our partnership was the oldest of any two airlines today," he said.

Bruggisser said commercially the loss of Austrian Airlines is not a major blow. Negotiations are already underway to expand the Qualiflyer Group in Eastern Europe, previously covered for Qualiflyer by Austrian Airlines.

The Star Alliance groups Lufthansa with United, SAS in Scandinavia, Thai Airways International, Air Canada, Brazil's Varig, Air New Zealand and Ansett Australia.

Qualiflyer comprises Swissair, Belgium's Sabena, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines, AOM French Airlines, Crossair of Switzerland, France's Air Littoral and Air Europe.

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