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Carnival in Deal for Airtours

Carnival Corporation is making another effort to get into Europe by seeking up to a 30 percent share in British Airtours.

Airtours, which is a large tour and travel company, entered the cruise market last year with the Seawing, the former Southward, and the Carousel, the former Nordic Prince.

Operating at the budget end of the market, Airtours reported ships filled with passengers mainly from England but also from Scandinavia during its first summer season.

Airtours would benefit from Carnival's expertise and resources as well as have access to more ships as Carnival sheds older, and by Carnival-standards inefficient vessels, from the North American market.

Carnival, meanwhile, also gains access to the British and Scandinavian markets for its own ships. Industry sources also speculate that Carnival plans to continue acquisitions in more European countries to eventually build a European-wide web of operations under one umbrella.

In addition, Carnival is looking at the Far East. "This is a global business," said a spokesperson.

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