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SAirGroup breaks off Alitalia talks

The Swiss flag carrier has ended discussions with its Italian counterpart

(Keystone)

Swissair's parent company SAirGroup has put talks about a possible partnership with Italy's Alitalia on hold, a company spokesman said on Saturday.

Confirming a report in the German-language newspaper "Blick", spokesman
Jean-Claude Donzel said the group's current priority is its investments in Belgium's Sabena and in French airlines AOM, Air Littoral and Air Liberté.

SAirGroup had held discussions with Alitalia after Royal Dutch KLM broke off its alliance with the Italian carrier earlier this year. Air France also has been rumoured as a possible partner for Alitalia.

The Swissair parent already has stakes in two smaller Italian airlines, Air Europe and Volare.

SAirGroup's strategy has been under close scrutiny in recent months, amid persistent rumours that the group might move away from taking stakes in and making alliances with second-tier airlines, and could even sell Swissair to a foreign operator.

But the company said last month that its airline strategy remains unchanged and insisted a sale of Swissair is not an option.

In August, SAirGroup blamed the high cost of fuel and delays for a drop in first-half profits to SFr3 million, down from SFr87 million francs last year.

Donzel said Swissair's interest in acquiring a stake in financially troubled Malaysian Airline System, confirmed earlier this week, remains unchanged.

swissinfo with agencies

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