On 12 November 2001, Alitalia and Air France jointly notified the European Commission of a strategic alliance agreement regarding their global co-operation and more specifically their intra-European plans notably including operations between Italy and France.
The agreement focuses on a joint commitment to develop a multi-hub system based Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Milan-Malpensa and Rome-Fiumicino airports. It aims at building integrated operations so as to improve the quality and value of the product offered to consumers, bringing them substantial benefits.
Ever since November 2001, both partners have intensively co-operated with the Commission for the review and assessment of their alliance under EU competition rules. As per normal procedure, neither Alitalia nor Air France, according to sources from both airlines, have received formal notice of the Commission`s position on the cooperation agreement between the two airlines.
Commenting on an article published in the Financial Times on 29 June 2002, Jean-Cyril Spinetta, Chairman and CEO of Air France said: “The “letter of serious doubts “, as it is referred to, does would not come as a surprise: it constitutes a normal procedural step which is customary for this kind of co-operative agreement . Thiand its in no way compromises the final decision. and I am extremely confident that the Commission, after discussion of appropriate remedies, if need be, will approve our partnership. The Commission has recently used the same process to clear an alliance agreement between two major European airlines which has a major impact on competition when compared to the Alitalia/Air France agreement. In the coming weeks, we will continue to work closely with the Commission in order to obtain confirmation of the full compatibility of our alliance with competition rules.”
Francesco Mengozzi, CEO of Alitalia, added : “Since November 2001, we have fully implemented the our link with the SkyTeam alliance which is bringing about all the expected benefits for the partners and their customers. In addition, the specific Italy-France venture with Air France has started. It is obvious that this alliance is crucial for improving the competition balance in the overall European market as we need to be in a position to effectively compete with other global airlines groupings. Being the first move towards a closer integration of the two companies, our agreement is also fully in line with the Commission`s support for the consolidation process among European airlines. I have no reason to believe that the Commission would not authorize our partnership.”