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Just how close will Lufthansa and Etihad become?

December 20, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

One of Europe’s fiercest critics of Gulf carriers and their practices, Lufthansa, appears to have had a sudden change of heart, agreeing to sell tickets jointly with Etihad.

The pact applies to some routes and the door is open to further deals between the two.

It’s a major turnaround for Lufthansa. Previously, the German carrier has attacked Gulf carriers as state backed and therefore unfair competitors. The criticism echoes similar sentiments expressed by the big three US carriers, who object to Gulf rivals on the same grounds, contending the Middle Eastern airlines enjoy an unfair competitive advantage. The Gulf carriers vehemently deny the charges.

Suddenly, however, the fierce rivalry between Lufthansa and Etihad seems to be at an end.

Speaking to the United Arab Emirates publication The National, Etihad president and chief executive, James Hogan said: “It is very clear to us at Etihad Airways that Lufthansa is a like-minded, forward thinking organisation with which we can do strong, meaningful and mutually beneficial business.”

Hogan added that Etihad had long viewed Germany as a “key strategic market for Etihad” and the new relationship with Lufthansa marked the next step “in our commitment to the leading European aviation group. Lufthansa is highly respected globally and I’m very pleased that we will work together in the future for the benefit of our customers.”

Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr said the two airlines would also consider extending their cooperation in other areas. Codeshares on other routes are said to be in the pipeline.

At least one aviation reporter, Ben Sandilands of Plane Talking, wrote in his blog on that the sudden rapprochement between Etihad and Lufthansa reminded him of the way Qantas and Emirates had progressed a few years ago from a very acrimonious relationship to a close and powerful alliance.

Could Lufthansa and Etihad follow suit?

The new Lufthansa-Etihad codeshare deal will see the German carrier place its LH code on Etihad’s flights between Abu Dhabi and Frankfurt and Munich. Etihad will put its EY code on Lufthansa’s long-haul services between Frankfurt and Rio de Janeiro and Bogota.

From there, who knows?

Written by Peter Needham

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