After growing into formidable global airlines, the three major Persian Gulf carriers within the past month each readied partnership deals with big players.
Emirates set the stage in September by announcing a tie-up with Qantas. On Monday, the Oneworld alliance is expected to officially introduce Qatar Airways as an incoming member.
The last of the three, Etihad Airways, the national flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, also on Monday announced a codeshare deal with Air France-KLM that the companies described as "the first phase of a much larger strategic partnership."
Air France-KLM also announced a new codeshare deal with Airberlin, Germany's number two carrier, in which Etihad holds a 29% stake, covering "all" of both carriers' flights between France and Germany. (Airberlin in March joined Oneworld, a rival to Air France-KLM's SkyTeam alliance.)
"The linking together of these three components, as we continue to strengthen our bilateral agreements, means all the pieces of our plan are coming together," according to Etihad CEO James Hogan, who noted that Air France is his airline's 40th codeshare partner.
"This deal enables us to further extend our global reach and now gives us a combined network of 321 destinations—the largest of any Middle East carrier."
Etihad and Air France-KLM on Oct. 28 will begin sharing codes across their networks.
In the first phase of cooperation with Air France-KLM, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad will place its code on Air France flights between Paris Charles de Gaulle and Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Madrid, Nice and Toulouse, and KLM flights between Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi; Billund, Denmark; Cardiff and Newcastle in the United Kingdom; and Oslo and Stavanger, Norway.
Air France will place its code on Etihad flights between Abu Dhabi and the Seychelles; the Maldives; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Dhaka, Senegal; Kathmandu, Nepal; and Islamabad, while KLM will place its code on Etihad flights between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, Melbourne, Islamabad, Colombo and Lahore, Pakistan.
Air France-KLM and Etihad also intend to integrate loyalty programs and cooperate on procurement, maintenance and other cost-saving areas.
Source: Business Travel News