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Aeroflot Becomes 10th Airline to Join SkyTeam

For MTJoining the SkyTeam alliance eases bookings involving more than one airline.
Aeroflot on Friday officially joined SkyTeam, becoming the 10th member of the global alliance that eases bookings involving more than one airline and offers members a system of bonuses.

Jean-Cyril Spinetta, Air France general director and board chairman, said talks on Aeroflot's membership began in 2002 and "it was clear from the beginning that the talks would be successful."

"Despite its age -- 83 years -- Aeroflot has completely reinvented itself. Its safety and security standards are now recognized worldwide. Its quality of service is highly appreciated by all international customers and is on a par with all major airlines," Spinetta said at a signing ceremony in a mansion owned by the Foreign Ministry attended by top executives from all member airlines.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Aeroflot's SkyTeam membership would increase Russia's economic competitiveness in general.

"Air travel goes hand in hand with stimulating other areas of business," said Lavrov. "The closer we work with our business partners abroad, the easier it will be for Russia to pursue its foreign policy, and this will help increase trust and solve complicated questions in foreign policy."

SkyTeam includes KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France, Korean Air, Alitalia, AeroMexico, CSA Czech Airlines, plus U.S. carriers Delta, Northwest and Continental.

Aeroflot was admitted into the group on the understanding that the modernization of carrier's hub, Sheremetyevo Airport, would be completed by October 2007.

(AP, Bloomberg)

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