Virgin Yet To Join Etihad's New Alliance Club
Etihad has unveiled plans to form its own Airline alliance with its partner Airlines to improve network, service and Frequent Flyer points for a more consistent experience, but local partner Virgin Australia has yet to join the group.
Etihad Airway Partners founding members will include Airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, India's Jet Airways and Darwin Airline. Those are the carriers with which Etihad has the closest relationship.
Etihad owns 21.2 per cent of Virgin and the Abu Dhabi based carrier's Australian born chief executive James Hogan sits on the board. However, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines also have equity stakes in Virgin, making for a more complicated structure.
Mr Hogan said Etihad Airways Partners was open to any airline, regardless of whether it was part of an existing alliance. Airberlin is a member of the oneworld alliance and there has been speculation Etihad could expand its existing codeshare relationship with fellow oneworld member Malaysia Airlines as that carrier looks to restructure.
Hogan said the new group differed from legacy airline alliances such as oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam by offering benefits beyond commercial cooperation.
We are aiming to deliver a consistent experience for frequent flyers when they travel, as well as a consistent framework for earning and using their miles,he said.
That will include standardised mileage and tier benefits across all partners and no blackout periods.
The Etihad Airways Partners logo is a seal of excellence and global cooperation,Mr Hogan said. It will be displayed on Aircraft and on branded materials by a group of Airlines working together to connect travellers around the world, and increasingly to harmonise standards in the air and on the ground.
Etihad has appointed Air France executive Bruno Matheu to the new role of chief operating officer, equity partners to oversee relationships with partners, including Virgin.
Mr Matheu, who will report directly to Mr Hogan, will lead plans to optimise business performance, revenue and cost synergies between Etihad and its partner airlines. Etihad has signed aircraft order deals that allow its partners to take part.
Mr Hogan has also flagged the potential for a public listing of Etihad's loyalty program at some stage in the future.
Singapore Airlines and Virgin have signed a world-first deal that will allow members of their frequent flyer programs to exchange points for the other program. However, Virgin has not yet signed a similar deal with Etihad or Air New Zealand.
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