European markets gain, Air France, Lufthansa, Aer Lingus and British Airways up

Shares in Air France-KLM surged 6.5% on Friday as SkyTeam partner Delta Air Lines entered discussions with Japan Airlines regarding a possible merger in the struggling Japanese airline.

As Delta’s European partner, Air France-KLM could be included in possible investments in JAL, which could total up to JPY50 billion (USD550 million), giving the US carrier a stake of up to 11.2% in the Japanese airline. See separate report: Delta Air Lines' Japanese and Asian Dilemma.

Shares in Lufthansa were up 0.8% on Friday, as the Frankfurt DAX closed 0.52% higher. In executive news, Lufthansa appointed Stephan Gemkow, member of the Lufthansa Executive Board and CFO, as Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Lufthansa Cargo, Lufthansa Technik, LSG Lufthansa Service Holding and Lufthansa Systems, respectively.

Airbus meanwhile, stated both Lufthansa and Air France are preparing for the commencement of A380 operations. Air France will be the first operator to offer A380 transatlantic travel between Europe and the US in Nov-2009, with Paris Charles de Gaulle-New York service, before the subsequent use of the aircraft on routes between Paris and Dubai, Johannesburg and Tokyo. The carrier will be configured with 538 seats. Lufthansa, meanwhile, will use its A380s primarily on routes to Asia and North America. The carrier is evaluating on approximately 20 airports as destinations for the A380, which will enter revenue service during the Summer 2010 flight schedule.

Elsewhere, Aer Lingus’ shares soared 18.0% on Friday, capping a strong week for Irish stocks as the Dublin ISEQ Index gained over 7% last week, led by strong trade the banking sector. 

Shares in British Airways jumped 2.6% on Friday. Virgin Atlantic Chairman, Sir Richard Branson, confirmed his intention to appear before the US Congress to testify against the anti-trust immunity application by British Airways, American Airlines and oneworld partners, arguing it would create an effective merger between the carriers and a “monster monopoly” on the North Atlantic.

Europe selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 11-Sep-09

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