Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan stated (17-Sep-2012) the airline is in negotiations with South American carriers about potential commercial partnerships. The airlines involved were not named. Mr Hogan also commented on the economic significance of the airline's planned Abu Dhabi-Sao Paulo service, scheduled to commence on 01-Jun-2013. Mr Hogan said, "with some of the fastest connecting flight times to China and Japan, Brazil’s largest and fifth largest trade partner, respectively, Etihad Airways is providing vital air links between the world’s major emerging markets." [more - original PR]
Etihad Airways in partnership negotiations with South American airlines
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KLM looks to grow partnerships in Asia, which are becoming larger targets than North America's
Partnerships and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines are intertwined: KLM and Northwest Airlines first joined forces in 1989 when KLM acquired a 20% holding in the US carrier, then the two pioneered the industry's first modern joint venture in 1997, subsequently been imitated not just by trans-Atlantic peers but by airlines across the world. Partnerships today are even more prevalent and critical for KLM. The trans-Atlantic deal has expanded and KLM has a JV with Kenya Airways, among others.
But it is Asia where KLM's breadth of partnerships is most evident and also where there are expansion opportunities, as KLM COO and Deputy CEO Pieter Elbers told CAPA at its recent World Aviation Summit in Amsterdam.
The launch of European flights by China's Sichuan and Xiamen Airlines could see KLM form a deeper partnership, adding to its existing relationships with China Eastern and JV partner China Southern. KLM's historical relationship with Malaysia Airlines has continued despite MAS joining oneworld in 2013, and KLM has also added one-time foe Etihad Airways as a partner. KLM would like a partner in Japan, its second-largest Asian market, and ideally hitch on Air France's relationship with JAL. Mr Elbers describes a stable if limited relationship with SkyTeam heavyweight Korean Air. The growth in partnerships comes as Asia widens its lead over North America as KLM's largest long-haul market.
Gulf carriers and Turkish Airlines ready to expand in China, if only air rights were available
For all their success elsewhere, the Gulf carriers and Turkish Airlines are looking rather thin in China. This is not by their choosing. Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and Turkish have reached the limit of air rights and slots made available to them.
All are ready to expand, and Turkish has even said it has service to five cities ready to launch if approved. That is probably of little comfort to China. While the country wants a flourishing aviation market, it also wants its airlines to have a fair share. But this is not classic protectionism. The argument is Chinese carriers are still young and need time to gain experience before being on equal footing with peers.
Yet Etihad and Qatar are younger than China’s long-haul airlines. With a mindset change that favours liberalisation in China being unlikely in the medium term, the foreign carriers will have to find ways to stress their value and why they should receive more air rights. Partnerships are one such answer.