Etihad Airways is about to enter an expanded codeshare deal with Air France-KLM while, in an apparently separate development, agreeing to sell its stake in Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus.
Etihad chief executive James Hogan revealed the moves to reporters on the sidelines of IATA’s 71st annual general meeting in Miami.
He said from this year Etihad and Air France-KLM would share codes on more flights to open more European cities to Etihad’s customers. Details have yet to be finalised.
Hogan added Etihad would sell its 4.99% stake in Aer Lingus in a potential takeover bid by British Airways-parent International Airlines Group (IAG), ABS-CBN News reported.
Although Etihad is not averse to taking stakes in carriers, it now plans to grow its network through airline partnerships.
As well as owning about 24% of Virgin Australia’s holding company, Etihad has a 49% slice of Italy’s Alitalia and almost 30% stake in Germany’s airBerlin, plus strategic investments in Air Serbia and Aer Lingus and about a quarter of Indian carrier Jet Airways.
On the Australian front, Etihad is operating an A380 to Sydney.
Etihad, along with other Gulf airlines, is currently embroiled in a war of words with big US carriers, which claim the Gulf carriers have received more than USD 40 billion in subsidies from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. That, the American carriers charge, has let the Middle Eastern carriers add excess capacity on vital routes, cut ticket prices and muscle in on market share.
The Gulf airlines deny the accusations.
Written by Peter Needham