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Governing Board provides recruitment, network and services updates

PARIS, June 2, 2006 – SkyTeam announced today that the alliance is seeing strong momentum in network development on a global and market level as China Southern continues to make progress on fulfilling alliance joining requirements and as Portugalia Airlines takes the first steps toward becoming a SkyTeam Associate Airline.  The announcement was made during a press briefing in conjunction with the SkyTeam Governing Board’s meeting today in Paris.  In addition to network development, the executives provided updates on key SkyTeam service areas.

Network Development
SkyTeam continues to build its world network as it targets regions of key growth and connectivity. 

World Network

During the meeting, the executives reflected on the addition of Aeroflot, one month after SkyTeam officially welcomed the airline as the tenth alliance member.  With the addition of Aeroflot, SkyTeam’s network now serves 373 million passengers with nearly 15,000 daily flights to more than 728 destinations worldwide. 

Alliance executives reported that China Southern is on track to become a full member of SkyTeam.  Experts from the airline and alliance are working together to ensure finalization of this process takes place next year.  China is one of the fastest growing airline markets in the world and presents opportunities for SkyTeam.  As the largest airline in the People’s Republic of China, China Southern’s addition to SkyTeam will expand the alliance’s service in key regions, while adding a well-positioned, modern hub in Guangzhou airport to the alliance’s hub network. 

Individual Market Network

Also during the meeting, SkyTeam announced Portugalia Airlines as the next Associate Airline candidate.  The SkyTeam Associate Program serves carriers, including current partners of alliance members, who are interested in alliance benefits but may not meet all strategic criteria necessary to become full SkyTeam members.  Portugalia is expected to complete all joining requirements and achieve SkyTeam Associate Airline status by 2008.  Air France will serve as the airline’s sponsor, liaising between Portugalia and SkyTeam, facilitating its integration, as well as representing Portugalia in SkyTeam decisions.

“SkyTeam is experiencing strong momentum and is poised for continued growth over the next few years,” said Jean-Cyril Spinetta, chairman and chief executive officer of Air France.   “As we welcome Portugalia’s interest in our Associate Program, we look forward to strengthening our already robust European network and increasing our connectivity to and within North Africa, providing our passengers even more flexibility and choice in air travel.”

As announced previously, the Associate Program extends SkyTeam’s benefits to more passengers.  As part of their involvement with SkyTeam, Associate Airlines will adhere to key alliance customer programs, including frequent flyer reciprocity, lounge access and codeshare agreements.  Current Associate Airline candidates include Air Europa of Spain, Copa of Panama, Kenya Airways, Middle East Airlines of Lebanon and Tarom of Romania.

Portugalia serves nearly one million passengers annually.  With a fleet of 17 aircraft, the airline flies to 20 destinations in six countries, serving cities in Europe and North Africa. 

Development of Alliance Services

The executives provided additional updates on key initiatives aimed at further developing the most comprehensive offering of travel solutions to benefit alliance passengers and members.

E-Services

  • Nearly all interline e-Ticketing agreements between SkyTeam members are currently in place, with the remainder targeted for completion by the end of summer 2006.(1)   Interline e-Ticketing agreements allow passengers to enjoy a more convenient option for booking and ticketing reservations involving multiple carriers in the same itinerary, while member airlines reduce distribution costs. 
  • SkyTeam now offers information in 10 languages, including Russian, at skyteam.com.

Connectivity

  • SkyTeam offers its passengers 41locations across the globe, in which members already serve joint domestic and international terminals (co-location). These facilities enable member airlines to offer travelers the highest level of customer service through faster, easier and more convenient airport connections, while maximizing facility utilization. Looking ahead, the alliance continues to evaluate opportunities to open additional co-located facilities, including locations in Europe and Asia.

Customized Business Travel Solutions

  • SkyTeam is also expanding its offerings for corporate travel solutions.  The alliance offers a Global Corporate Accounts program for international companies and has signed agreements with several customers. The alliance is also in the process of finalizing agreements with several other international corporations.
  • The alliance’s most recent portfolio addition, SkyTeam Global Meetings, provides organizers of large-scale international events a streamlined process to coordinate all air travel needs across 10 member airlines. The alliance recently signed an agreement with International Paris Air Show Le Bourget to coordinate the travel arrangement process for the 47th International Paris Air Show in 2007.

“Passengers of SkyTeam benefit from the portfolio of products offered by the alliance and member carriers of SkyTeam benefit from synergies enabled by the alliance structure,” said Douglas Steenland, president and chief executive officer of Northwest Airlines. “We are committed to continuously developing and implementing both customer products and member synergies in order to maintain SkyTeam’s standing as the alliance that delivers the most to its passengers and member carriers.”

About SkyTeam
SkyTeam is the global airline alliance partnering 10 members, including Aeroflot, Aeroméxico, Air France, Alitalia, Continental Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air and Northwest Airlines.  Through one of the world’s most extensive hub networks, SkyTeam offers its 373 million annual passengers a worldwide system of nearly 15,000 daily flights covering all major destinations.  In 2005, readers of Global Traveler Magazine voted SkyTeam “Best Airline Alliance.”  Please visit SkyTeam on the Web at www.skyteam.com.

(1)At present, the Russian government still requires paper airline tickets to be issued.  SkyTeam’s newest member, Aeroflot, is working to ensure it can swiftly complete agreements once it is legally possible.

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