Finnair VP for oneworld relations, Paavo Virkkunen, stated (16-Feb-2010) anti-trust immunity for the proposed cooperation agreement between Finnair and its oneworld partners (American Airlines, Iberia, British Airways and Royal Jordanian) will be strategically important for the competitiveness of the alliance, as the Star and SkyTeam alliances already have immunity and it will be "highly significant" in balancing competition in North Atlantic traffic. The US Department of Transportation recently stated that it favours the granting of antitrust immunity to the carriers, with its preliminary decision to be finalised after a 45-day comment period. [more]
Finnair: oneworld immunity would be significant for North Atlantic competition
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Global alliances as the airline system metamorphoses: A view to 2025
The international aviation world will look very different in a decade. The big US airlines are re-emerging from their shells as prosperity (and slow growth in their mature domestic market) prompts them to go forth internationally.
China is inevitably and remorselessly stamping its shape on global markets; the Gulf carriers continue to expand and attract the ire of those who prefer the status quo; and low cost carriers proliferate and metamorphose.
And all this while, sadly, airlines look like remaining confined to the 1940s’ archaic ownership and control rules. Within this confinement, they continue to struggle to find new ways of expanding their geography – and, in some cases, of restricting others’. International markets have another drawback. They tend to be much more competitive, in diverse ways, than nationally protected domestic markets.
Lufthansa and Etihad: equity tie up could further align mutual strategy, but marriage unlikely
Greater cooperation between Lufthansa and Etihad reflects their local and global challenges growing in quantity and complexity. Contact between the two has led to speculation that the partnership could radically expand to include an equity tie up, with rumoured merger talks.
Their initial Dec-2016 codeshare announcement was, in practical terms, small but showed the possibility, as they stated, to expand cooperation. However, it would be a leap to go from their handful of codeshares to a 17-Jan-2017 article from Italian daily newspaper Il Messaggero that Etihad could invest in Lufthansa on the way to a possible merger between the two. A subsequent denial in a Reuters story that "A financial stake is out of the question at the moment", does little to dispel the rumour. Were it not for the last three words of that statement the rumour would lack credibility.
There is certainly logic for a deeper partnership - and the two have danced this waltz before. Equity involvement from airlines can cement partnerships, add to board influence and partially allow one side to gain financially from any matter it feels it is compromising away. Nevertheless, there are obstacles to a full blown merger, and even to Etihad's taking a 30% to 40% stake. A marriage between the new bedfellows does not seem an immediate prospect. Nonetheless the logic is there for a move; and the mere fact of a potential move is sufficient to rock the equilibrium.