Three Skyteam member airlines are following in Lufthansa’s footsteps* – by next year they intend to inaugurate a JV (joint venture) to better compete against their Gulf rivals Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.
Air France, KLM and US carrier Delta will team up with India’s (non-alligned) Jet Airways on multiple routings.
They will be using their hubs at Amsterdam and Paris CDG in Europe along with Atlanta, Minneapolis and New York JFK in the USA.
This mammoth JV has still to be formally approved. It will, according to Air France, cover routes between India, Europe and both North and South America. Also between North America, India and Africa also via Europe.
Travellers based in the UK regions may find it more convenient to change in Amsterdam or Paris CDG rather than London Heathrow.
Why these particular routings ?
Because, as Business Traveller has previously reported, the Gulf airlines have captured much of this traffic to the detriment of European aviation.
Air France says the JV represents 25 per cent of total transatlantic capacity with annual revenue of US$12 billion.
Certainly there is little love lost between Delta and the Gulf carriers. The latter competed fiercely and prompted Delta (along with other US carriers) to exit the Gulf market.
But Jet Airways is 24 per cent owned by Etihad. Why is it agreeing to this JV?
Local media in India is speculating that this is one way in which Jet Airways can expand internationally rather than simply feed passengers to Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways.
But Jet Airways is wasting no time with its expansion plans.
From the start of the winter timetable (at the end of October):
- Its flights between Mumbai, Delhi and Amsterdam plus the flight continuing to Toronto will be operated by larger B777-300ERs which replace the current A330-200
- Flights between these two Indian cities and London Heathrow will continue to be operated by B777-300ERs
- Lufthansa Group already operates a JV with Singapore Airlines, and expects to start a similar venture with Air China in 2017.