DALLAS — Middle Eastern giant Etihad Airways (EY) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the large Air France-KLM Group, aiming to enhance their partnership regarding passenger operations, loyalty programs, talent development, and maintenance.
Both airlines hold strong ties in terms of interline and codeshared flights, with EY passengers having the opportunity to explore six further destinations with Air France (AF) and 24 with KLM (KL) through their respective hubs across Europe.
The collaboration between EY and Air France-KLM started in 2012 and is set to expand with the recognition of Flying Blue miles with the Etihad Guest program and vice versa, as well as exploring terminal co-location in Paris (CDG), Amsterdam (AMS), and Abu Dhabi (AUH) and shared lounge access.
Etihad Airways currently operates one daily flight to both hubs of the Air France-KLM Group, and the French carrier will start flying daily to Abu Dhabi as well from October 29, 2023.
Excitement for the Deal from Both Airlines
During the signing ceremony at the Air France-KLM Group’s headquarters in Paris, the Chief Commercial Officer of Air France-KLM and the Chief Revenue Officer of Etihad, Arik De, commented on the benefits of the partnership expansion.
Angus Clarke said, “The attractiveness of Abu Dhabi as a destination and a hub, powered by Etihad’s large footprint spanning South and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia, brings significant richness to this partnership. This moment marks our shared commitment to providing seamless, premium, customer-centric travel experiences to our shared global customer base.”
Arik De, CRO of Etihad, also commented, “This MoU builds on our existing partnership by exploring deeper network enhancements as we offer improved connectivity between Abu Dhabi and Paris…It reaffirms Etihad’s intent to bolster Abu Dhabi’s cultural and economic growth as we look forward to welcoming more guests to our home enjoying better travel benefits and enhanced customer experiences along the way.”
Etihad, One Step Closer to Joining Skyteam?
The preference for Etihad to collaborate and establish partnerships with Skyteam members is not a secret. It is a factual tilt backed up by codeshare deals with 10 members of the alliance, and shared loyalty programs with another five members.
While no official agreement is in place, EY has declared on many occasions that an eventual joining of Skyteam is always kept under review, even though the carrier was focused after the pandemic on recuperating profitability and working on its own network growth.
Today, after the airline came back to a stable economic situation, it is now focused on expanding interline agreements and, maybe in a few months, on taking the first step toward joining the second-largest alliance in the commercial aviation market.
Featured image: Daniel Crawford/Airways