Archive for September 18th, 2007

Air France KLM Adds Alitalia As Potential Merger Target

Air France KLM Logo Air France KLM has once again admitted their interest in Iberia and Alitalia, which airlines are basically on sale. Iberia, the Spanish national carrier is profitable, but the shareholders wish to find a new owner to protect the company in the long run, while Alitalia has been making losses for long decades by now, and the government is forced to sell it, basically under any circumstances.

Air France KLM wants to grow, and now emphasizes it once again. They are already the biggest European carrier, but they want to move forward and wish to become a major driving force behind the ongoing consolidation of the European Airline Market.

Iberia logo Air France KLM Chairman and CEO Jean-Cyril Spinetta yesterday said in an interview with the Financial Times, that they are indeed studying a potential merger with either Alitalia or Iberia. He said AF KLM has held “informal” talks with potential Spanish financial partners (see earlier report by Airlineworld), though it is not yet in official discussions with Iberia. The cooperation with Iberia would be a little more complicated, but the Spanish carrier is in good financial shape at the moment, and is the leading airline between Europe and South-America. AF KLM are one of the leading members of the SkyTeam alliance, while Iberia is a founding member of oneworld. How they would solve this situation, is not yet known, it is probably one of the major issues in the ongoing evaluations. According to Spinetta: “We are in the phase of evaluating the potential for cooperation with Iberia.

Alitalia logo He explained that AF KLM declined to participate in the failed auction earlier this year for the Italian government’s stake in Alitalia because it did not believe the terms and conditions set for the sale were viable. But the situation has changed with the appointment of a management team led by Maurizio Prato, who initiated a new restructuring effort, which includes cutting back traffic at Milan-Malpensa hub, and has been asked by the government to sell the state’s 49.9% stake, he said.

If Mr. Prato wants to talk to us, we will listen carefully,” Spinetta said. “He has a clear mission to sell this stake, but how he sees this problem I don’t know.” He added that “the Italian market is very strong. There are huge business traffic flows and tourist leisure flows. The potential is very high.” And knowing that both airlines being members of SkyTeam, the traffic integration would not be that big of an issue in this case, but the financial situation is the one that would easily give a headache to AF KLM. Now, that several privatization attempts have failed for Alitalia, AF KLM may be in a better (and stronger) position to discuss a possible solution face-to-face with Alitalia, and Mr. Prato.

by balint01

Colin McRae Dies In A Helicopter Crash

Colin Steele McRae, (05AUG1968 – 15SEP2007) was a Scottish World Rally Championship (WRC) driver, the son of five-time British Rally Champion, Jimmy McRae and older brother of professional driver Alister McRae. He won the world driver’s title in 1995 as the first British national, was championship runner-up in 1996, 1997 and 2001, and third in 1998 when he won the Race of Champions. He helped Subaru to the World Rally Manufacturer’s title in 1995, 1996 and 1997, and Citroën in 2003. He had won 25 rallies and 477 stages in the WRC and has competed in the Paris-Dakar Rally and the 24 Hours of Le Mans competitions in recent years as well. He was famous for his aggressive and very quick driving style, some people have knicknamed him as “McCrash” for some of his spectacular high speed crashes. There is also a world-famous computer game series named after him: Colin McRae Rally by Codemasters.

McRae was married to his wife Alison, with whom they had two children: Hollie (9) and Johnny. He had moved to Monaco in 1995, partly through his friendship with fellow Scot and Formula One driver David Coulthard, but has recently moved back to Scotland, where the couple bought the 17th century Jerviswood House.

PA/Robert Perry - taken from

At approximately 4:10 pm on 15SEP2007, about 1 mile north of Lanark, Scotland, close to this McRae family home, he was flying his  AS350B2 Twin Squirrel helicopter registered G-CBHL, when it crashed. McRae held a pilot’s licence and travelled by helicopter on a regular basis. According to the reports, the 39 year old Colin was piloting the helicopter himself at the time of the crash. According to “Police sources said the blue helicopter used by the  multi-millionaire had exploded in a “fireball”. Eyewitness David Lowry, 48, who owns New Steadings Farm, just across the Mouse Water from McRae’s home, saw the helicopter crash. He said: “I was speaking to one of my friends on the farm. The helicopter came overhead and then dropped into the valley. After it disappeared I saw smoke rising from the trees and phoned the emergency services. I could not see what happened when it went down. It did not seem to be in any trouble. It was about half a mile from me and the helicopter seemed to be flying normally. It was navy blue in colour and I am led to believe it belongs to Colin McRae. It is up so often my cattle don’t even flinch when it is overhead.

Police confirmed the next day that McRae, his five year old son Johnny, and two family friends, Graeme Duncan (good friend of Colin’s since school) and Johnny’s six year old friend Ben Porcelli, died in the crash. A page at his website has since been made available allowing fans to post messages of condolence.

by balint01

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September 2007