Etihad Aviation Group to forge new links with Lufthansa Group and airberlin
Etihad Airways has announced the conclusion of a codeshare agreement between Lufthansa Group and airberlin.
The arrangement is set to start in January 2017, subject to government approval.
The wet-lease agreement between Lufthansa Group and airberlin – in which Etihad Aviation Group indirectly holds a 29 per cent stake – was also announced today. Lufthansa’s point-to-point carrier Eurowings and Austrian Airlines, a Lufthansa Group airline, have signed an agreement to wet lease 38 aircraft from airberlin. 33 of these aircraft are to be operated for the Eurowings Group, an additional five aircraft are to be flown for Austrian Airlines. The agreement has a term of six years and becomes effective from February 2017 subject to any regulatory requirements. The leases have been agreed at competitive rates.
Under the codeshare agreement, the German airline will place its ‘LH’ code on Etihad Airways’ twice daily non-stop flights between its home base of Abu Dhabi and Frankfurt and its twice daily non-stop services between Abu Dhabi and Munich, the biggest city in southern Germany.
The UAE’s national airline will, in turn, put its ‘EY’ code on Lufthansa’s long-haul, non-stop intercontinental services between its home base of Frankfurt, the business and commercial capital of Germany, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as well as Bogota, Colombia.
James Hogan, President and chief executive officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We have long seen Germany as a key strategic market for Etihad Aviation Group and this new relationship with Lufthansa marks 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. Additionally, we are, in our role as a minority shareholder in airberlin, fully supportive of the separate agreement reached today with the Lufthansa Group to wet lease 38 airberlin aircraft. 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.”
Carsten Spohr, chairman of the board and CEO, Lufthansa Group said: “We are looking forward to partnering with the Etihad Aviation Group. The wet-lease contract with airberlin fosters the growth of our Eurowings Group. The codeshare agreement of Lufthansa and Etihad will offer our customers more benefits and complement both airlines’ networks. We will consider extending our cooperation in other areas.”
Analyst Saj Ahmad said: "This is a huge deal that pairs up a big EU carrier with one of the fastest growing GCC airlines.
"Lufthansa has come to understand that a deep partnership with Etihad is far more favourable in the long term since collaboration will break barriers and develop more network options for passengers.
"Equally, Etihad's desire to strengthen its European base gets a huge boost by tapping into Lufthansa's expansive regional network and the deal that sees almost 40 A320s wet leased to Eurowings from Air Berlin demonstrates the breadth of this cooperation.
"That said, Air France is now isolated and out in the cold here. With BA partnered with Qatar Airways, Etihad with Lufthansa and Emirates going it alone due to its sheer size, the French carrier will be wondering how it played it's hand so badly and got left on the shelf."