Updated: Etihad Airways unveils own airline alliance?

8 Oct 2014 by Clement Huang

Etihad Airways stunned the industry today by introducing what is essentially its own airline alliance.

Branded as Etihad Airways Partners, the new partnership will consist of six airlines – namely airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways, Darwin Airline and Etihad Airways.

The move is particularly significant given that the Gulf carrier has previously been resistant to the idea of joining one of the “big three” airline alliances – Star Alliance, oneworld and SkyTeam.

According to Etihad Airways’ president and chief executive James Hogan, the aim of the new offering is to allow for strong commercial partnership and shared values between member airlines.

“We are broadening our business model to articulate and define a partner proposition for like-minded airlines which will result in synergies and efficiencies for participating airlines on the one side, and enhanced network choice, service and frequent flyer benefits for the consumer on the other,” said Hogan.  

Furthermore, Hogan expressed his belief that Etihad Airways Partners will differ from the legacy airline alliances by delivering benefits that extend beyond pure commercial cooperation. 

With Etihad Airways holding a significant stake in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Air Serbia, and Jet Airways, Hogan states that this will open up “the potential for network alignment to maximise flight connectivity for passengers”.

No news yet on whether Alitalia will join Etihad Airways Partners, which is perhaps surprising given that the Gulf carrier recently closed a deal for a 49 per cent stake in the troubled Italian flag carrier.

As the formation of Etihad Airways Partners aims to deliver a consistent framework for passengers to earn and redeem miles, the new partnership will include standardised mileage and tier benefits across all partners, no blackout periods and priority services.

It should be noted that Etihad Airways Partners does not restrict new members even if they are part of an existing alliance, with airberlin for instance being a member of oneworld.

UPDATE The Gulf carrier has clarified that it does not consider Etihad Airways Partners to be similar as traditional airline alliances. According to the airline: "We are a grouping of like-minded airlines working together to improve our competitive offer against those alliances and the major legacy carriers.  However, the depth of our relationships allow us to go further than the long-established global alliances, from greater network alignment which maximises flight connectivity to shared centres of excellence in cabin interior design, catering, IFE and customer service".

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Clement Huang

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