United Airlines CFO, Kathryn Mikells, confirmed talks are under way to create a trans-Pacific JV with Continental Airlines and All Nippon Airways (AP, 09-Dec-2009).
United Airlines seeking trans-Pacific partnership with Continental and All Nippon Airways
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Lufthansa and Etihad bedfellows - at last - but unions may make marriage a distant prospect
There can be no understating the symbolic change in mindset of Lufthansa agreeing to partner with Etihad. Lufthansa has spent the better part of a decade rallying against Gulf airlines to the press, lobbying in Europe's power corridors and seeking a range of aeropolitical measures to wind back new competitors. Etihad has been the prime target for its investment and ongoing top-ups in a range of European airlines including Lufthansa's home competitor, the failing airberlin. Despite that, it is not well known that the two have come close to a liaison before, suggesting that each sees an intrinsic logic in a relationship.
The partnership has potential to be more significant than Emirates-Qantas, Qatar-IAG or Etihad-AF-KLM. But for now it is limited in scope and caution should be exercised in extrapolating too far at this stage.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr is seeking new growth platforms that sidestep the flagship business' uncompromising unions who would seemingly prefer a status quo that exists only in memory. Their support will be necessary if the partnership is to work and grow. Then Lufthansa, which has rallied the Star Alliance and JV partners against Gulf airlines, will need to explain its change of heart. For now Lufthansa will not partner on Etihad's beyond-Abu Dhabi network, a move that would embrace the fundamental business plan of Etihad and peers. That upside remains a matter for speculation.
Delta-Korean Air joint venture creates trans-Pacific's second largest bloc. Cathay, EVA under threat
The unprecedented aviation market growth between Asia and North America is forcing airlines to re-evaluate their core strategy and reassess who is a competitor and who could be a partner. It seems probable that Delta Air Lines and Korean Air will form a joint venture, potentially making them the second largest trans-Pacific bloc.
The next two largest airlines without a deep partnership, EVA Air and Cathay Pacific, are having to confront significant change, without the support of partners. Delta-Korean Air brings United-ANA its closest rival yet, while the American-JAL JV – already smaller – needs bulking up.
Korean Air brings Delta a wider network in Asia than ANA or JAL offer to their respective JV partners, United and American. A Korean Air-Delta JV could result in more destinations and flights being added once they are able to sell jointly.