Virgin America and Emirates signed (13-Dec-2010) an interline agreement enabling Virgin America passengers to book services through Emirates with connecting service on Virgin America. Virgin America has also signed interline agreements with V Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, El-Al, South African Airways and Qatar Airways since its 2007 launch. [more]
Virgin America and Emirates sign interline agreement
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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.
Cathay-Lufthansa air freight JV an example of responses to the growing role of Gulf airlines
Among the challenges in the continuing weak air freight market is the role of Gulf airlines moving freight between Europe and Asia. Gulf airlines have already well proven themselves adept at moving people between many markets (some argue unprofitably so) but though their role in freight is quieter it is not without consequences.
Gulf airlines can offer dedicated freighter flights from cargo hubs to their home bases, where cargo is then transferred to lower-cost passenger belly space. European and Asian airlines typically fly freighter aircraft, with more expensive costs, over the entire journey. As a result, freighter flights between Asia and Europe have significantly decreased. Gulf airlines have bulked up freighters since 2012, in addition to doubling passenger flights to Europe and Asia since about 2010, creating ample belly space for freight.
In response to this is a growing, but still small, number of joint ventures, including Lufthansa-ANA and IAG-Qatar. Both were comfortably within Star and oneworld alliance groupings, but a recent JV formation between Star's Lufthansa and oneworld's Cathay Pacific indicates that solutions to the weak cargo market must be deeper.