Etihad announces partnership with Air France-KLM

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Rapidly expanding UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways says it has struck a deal with Air France-KLM to market some of each other’s flights as the first stage of a larger strategic alliance.

Alongside the deal announced Monday, Etihad says the Franco-Dutch airline operator is launching a similar codeshare deal for flights between France and Germany with Air Berlin. The United Arab Emirates-based Etihad bought nearly 30% of Air Berlin last year.

Codeshare deals, in which passengers can buy a single ticket for multiple airlines, allow carriers to expand their reach without having to operate additional routes.

Etihad says the Air France-KLM codeshare deal is the first phase of a larger partnership that could see the companies team up on frequent flier programmes, procurement and maintenance.

The accord will enable Etihad customers to fly on KLM’s daily Amsterdam-Abu Dhabi flight, whilst Air France customers will be able to travel on the daily Etihad service between Paris and Abu Dhabi, Air France-KLM said in a statement.

“Beyond their gateways, this code-share agreement offers five destinations each to Air France and KLM passengers on the Asian and Australian market and 10 European destinations to Etihad passengers on Air France and KLM,” Air France-KLM said in a statement.

The code-share deal between Air France and Air Berlin will enable customers of both carriers to fly on all routes operated by both airlines between France and Germany. Passengers will also be able to connect to certain destinations via Paris for Air Berlin, and via Berlin or Duesseldorf for Air France.

A German newspaper reported in April that Air France-KLM is considering a partnership with UAE’s national flag carrier Etihad that also includes a tie up with Air Berlin.

Etihad earlier this year acquired a 30% stake in Germany’s second biggest carrier which is struggling to make profits.

“A partnership with Etihad would only make sense for us on the Paris-Abu Dhabi route and to other hubs,” Die Welt quoted Jean-Cyril Spinetta as saying.

“On the other hand, a wider partnership would be possible, if it included Air Berlin and its network in the German market.”

Air France-KLM, which posted a net loss of €809 million ($1.04bn) last year, is implementing a restructuring programme which includes a complete overhaul of the European airline.

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