Etihad Airways announced plans to seek additional frequency to Australia, with the UAE-Australia air services agreement to be re-negotiated ahead of its expiry in Mar-2011 (The Australian, 05-Feb-2010). The carrier is currently permitted to operate 21 frequencies per week to Australia under the agreement. Emirates also announced plans earlier in the week to increase frequency to its current limit of 84 per week by Mar-2011 and apply for additional frequency. UAE and Australian governments are reportedly scheduled to commence talks in Feb-2010.
Etihad Airways seeks increase frequency under new UAE-Australia bilateral air services agreement
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Aeroflot 6th freedom Part 2: China service is a strength for a SkyTeam member excluded from JVs
Part 1 of this report on Aeroflot's connecting sixth freedom traffic noted that Aeroflot is the 13th largest carrier of passengers between Western Europe and Northeast Asia, whereas Finnair – whose "Nordic Shortcut" strategy is well-known – is slightly larger and is the 10th largest operator. After Emirates, Aeroflot is the largest airline flying passengers between the regions but is not based in either of them; all the other operators are Western European or Northeast Asian airlines.
This second and final part examines Aeroflot's growing connecting market in depth. Of the airline's connecting Western Europe-Northeast Asian passengers, 54% are travelling to/from mainland China. This correlates with the share of Aeroflot capacity allocated to China. Among Finnair, Turkish and the Gulf 3 "superconnectors", Aeroflot has the fewest destinations in Northeast Asia. Yet its frequency in prime Chinese cities is unmatched. Aeroflot has the benefit of good aeropolitical relations with China while benefitting from other airlines being restricted over Chinese airspace. This may appear to be a short term advantage that will reduce as competition grows.
Yet a review of the city pairs where Aeroflot is the strongest on transfer traffic indicates growth opportunities as more markets are incorporated into JVs and complacency settles in. This may increase already tense relations between Aeroflot and its SkyTeam partners. Pursuing stronger transfer traffic will be a delicate decision for Aeroflot management.
Aeroflot 6th freedom Part 1: long haul growth emphasises Europe-Asia connections
The Western Europe-North East Asia corridor has gained attention as the centrepiece of Finnair's expansion strategy. But just over 500 miles away in Moscow Aeroflot is quietly pursuing a role carrying transfer traffic between the regions. Although Aeroflot's spread of Asian destinations is not as extensive as Finnair's or those of the Gulf airlines, Aeroflot has favourable geography and lower costs. It is not subject to Russian overflight rights and associated costs. Finnair carries the tenth largest number of O&D passengers between Western Europe and Northeast Asia, while Aeroflot is 13th. After Emirates, Aeroflot is the second largest airline transporting passengers between the regions, but is based in neither.
A member of SkyTeam, Aeroflot is not part of the joint ventures (trans-Atlantic and Europe-Asia) that define the alliance's inner circle. Its long haul transfer strategy is focused on Western Europe-Asia. This strategy allows it some independence from SkyTeam but may also aggravate the alliance's established members, much the way that Turkish has irked Lufthansa and United. Aeroflot's connecting traffic, although still an overall small proportion of its international traffic, has grown faster than local traffic.