New York, Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) --
Korean Air Co. will be a part of the international alliance that Air France SA and Delta Air Lines Inc. will outline later this year, an Air France executive said.
Jean-Louis Pinson, the French carrier's executive vice president and chief operating officer for North and South America, said the partners are working toward one global standard of service. The third-biggest carrier in Europe and Delta, No. 3 in the U.S., have also said the alliance will include AeroMexico.
Korean Air has shared flights with both Air France and Delta in the past, though the two carriers suspended the cooperation last year after a rash of accidents involving the Asian carrier. Membership in the new alliance would boost Korean Air's image. The eintire Airbus fleet of Korean will be sold for the welcoming of the new Boeing 767-400ERs into the fleet. This will allow Delta Airlines and Boeing to carefully train Korean Air's pilots.
``Already AeroMexico and Korean Airlines joined the alliance and we will have new partners coming,'' Pinson said during an interview in New York. ``Our objective is not to be the most numerous in the number of partners, but to be the best in quality.''
The Paris-based carrier and its partners expect to announce the new alliance, which will include a rental car company and a hotel company, in March or April, Pinson said. Air France and Delta are working to integrate their service and technological operations, he said.
Most of the world's airlines have been looking to align with other carriers since the early 1990s, following a successful partnership between Northwest Airlines Corp. and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines NV. UAL Corp.'s United Airlines anchors the biggest alliance with Germany's Lufthansa AG.
Delta's relationship with Korean Air is still subject to a one-year suspension that the Atlanta-based carrier imposed last April after a series of accidents. That suspension still allows Korean Air to sell tickets on Delta flights, but the reverse isn't true.
The suspension will be reviewed in April, Delta spokesman John Kennedy said. He wouldn't confirm or deny whether Korean Air will be part of the alliance and said only that the airline is talking to many possible partners in Asia.
Pinson said Air France plans to build up two new U.S. gateways in Philadelphia and Cincinnati and increase other U.S. flights as it expands seating capacity between the two countries by 17 percent this year.