Last month we wrote about four international airlines seeking to form a JV (joint venture).
The airlines in question were Air France, KLM, US carrier Delta and India’s Jet Airways.
In fact these four airlines will be doing something similar to the Lufthansa group which has or is in the process of forming JVs with certain Asian airlines (see links at the bottom of this article).
These JVs are one way in which these airlines hope to compete with Gulf aviation.
In the case of Air France, KLM, Delta and Jet Airways the idea is to encourage passengers to route East-West via Europe rather than via the Gulf.
But one fact remained unclear when we published our news piece last month.
Jet Airways is 24 per cent owned by Gulf airline Etihad. So why would this Indian carrier work against its part-owner?
Over the weekend clarification has appeared in Mumbai’s The Economic Times.
After Etihad bought a stake in Jet Airways three years ago a number of senior executives were drafted in.
These have now left Jet Airways. The airline has returned to the control of its founder Naresh Goyal.
What it means is that Jet Airways will now become more independent on the world stage.
Why is this important? Because otherwise Jet Airways risks becoming an airline who simply feeds passengers across the Gulf to Etihad’s global hub in Abu Dhabi.
The first indication of this newly-found independence (although analysts never realised it at the time) was Jet Airways’ decision to transfer its European hub from Brussels to nearby Amsterdam Schiphol.
Businesstraveller.com was probably the first UK travel website to reveal the news back in November. At that time Jet Airways would make no comment.
It was an inspired decision in light of the Brussels terror attacks (which led to a fall in passengers using Brussels) and now it turns out that Etihad had preferred Jet Airways move its operations to Dusseldorf.
Etihad’s CEO James Hogan wanted Dusseldorf because the latter is a hub for Air Berlin. And Etihad owns 30 per cent of Air Berlin.
But Mt Goyal preferred Schiphol because of its extensive network of connections to the UK, mainland Europe, Scandinavia and across the Atlantic.
Jet Airways operates to Amsterdam from both Mumbai and Delhi. Both flights link with one another at Schiphol with one service continuing to Toronto.
Both routes being upgraded to larger B777-300ERs from the A330-300s which are currently used. Passengers continuing to the US/Canada (except Toronto) proceed with Dutch airline KLM or Delta.
At the same time Jet Airways will retime its Mumbai-Paris CDG flights to provide better connectivity with Air France.
The A330-300s will be redeployed on routes between India and Asia.
And only today comes news of Jet Airways launching a new route to SE Asia, one linking Bangalore with Singapore, which will start in December.
UK passengers need not worry. Jet Airways’ flights to and from London Heathrow remain unchanged.