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ebookers.com, AOL Europe Sign Two-Year Euro Alliance

Online travel specialist ebookers.com has inked a two-year alliance with AOL Europe extending across nine countries.

In exchange for certain guaranteed levels of advertising and promotion on AOL Europe's services, ebookers.com will pay £15 million ($24 million), spread over the two-year period.

The deal will give a measure of exclusivity to ebookers.com's presence on AOL Europe's sites, with the travel specialist being the only partner displaying selected fares on the main Travel Channel pages of each online service.

Dinesh Dhamija, chief executive officer of ebookers.com, hailed the deal as the most significant for his company to date.

"To sign an exclusive pan-European deal with a company of the calibre and stature of AOL Europe further strengthens the ebookers.com brand and allows us to expand our sales and branding efforts across Europe," said Dhamija.

The agreement between the two firms covers AOL and CompuServe services in the U.K., Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and Sweden. It also includes AOL Europe's web-based brands, including Netscape Online in the U.K.

AOL Europe will incorporate ebookers.com's flight booking service in each of its Flight Centers, as well as integrating ebookers.com's email airfare notification service, "Fare Alert," into its services.

Andreas Schmidt, president and chief executive officer of AOL Europe, said the new relationship would offer users a huge choice of fares and services, plus access to information to meet all their travel needs.

ebookers.com plc is a spin-off from Flightbookers plc and completed its initial public offering in November 1999. It offers discounted airfares with 72 major airlines, and discounted rooms at over 14,000 hotels worldwide.