Air France-KLM and Etihad Expand Partnership

by Anthony Losanno
a group of airplanes in the sky

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Air France-KLM and Etihad Airways have a partnership that dates back to 2012. It’s going to be greatly expanded with new codeshare flights, frequent flyer reciprocity, and more.

The airlines announced today that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed. The goal is to enhance  collaboration opportunities across passenger operations, loyalty programs, talent development, and maintenance. More than 40 new codeshares for flights across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Australia are bookable for travel as early as this winter. Frequent flyer reciprocity will allow members of both of both Flying Blue and Etihad Guest to earn and redeem miles with Air France, KLM, and Etihad. The airlines will also look to shift operations with terminal co-location, reciprocal lounge access, and ground handling, among other possibilities. Of course, this is all subject to government approval.

Air France A350

Etihad currently flies daily from its hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) to Schiphol Amsterdam Airport (AMS) and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). Air France will launch daily flights between Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) starting on October 29th using an Airbus A350-900.

For a long time, both US and European carriers opposed the expansion of the ME3 carriers (Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways). Especially in the US, lobbying groups were crying foul and citing the large fleets of new, lavishly appointed aircraft and award-winning service were going to hurt the US airline business. They wanted Open Skies agreements renegotiated and more restrictions put into place. This has eased and they’ve moved from enemies to frenemies with recent partnerships between United Airlines and Emirates (more here) as well as Air Canada, American Airlines and Qatar Airways forming a strategic alliance and shifting flights around to better partner where they will work best (more here and here).

Angus Clarke, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Air France-KLM, said:

I’m delighted to further develop our partnership with Etihad Airways. This 11-year collaboration is now expanding even further, as we aim to explore opportunities in maintenance and loyalty, in addition to enhancing our route network for the benefit of our customers from all around the world. The attractiveness of Abu Dhabi as a destination and a hub, powered by Etihad’s large footprint spanning South and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia, brings significant richness to this partnership. This moment marks our shared commitment to providing seamless, premium, customer-centric travel experiences to our shared global customer base.”

Arik De, Chief Revenue Officer at Etihad, added:

We are excited to expand our collaboration with Air France-KLM, with this MoU serving as a testament to our shared vision of creating premium journeys for our guests.  This MoU builds on our existing partnership by exploring deeper network enhancements as we offer improved connectivity between Abu Dhabi and Paris, and leveraging the extensive AF-KL network to Europe and beyond. It reaffirms Etihad’s intent to bolster Abu Dhabi’s cultural and economic growth as we look forward to welcoming more guests to our home enjoying better travel benefits and enhanced customer experiences along the way.”

Anthony’s Take: This is a win for passengers with additional ways to earn and redeem miles, expanded benefits, and more choices for all.

(Airbus A350 Image Credit: Air France.)

(Featured Image Credit: Etihad Airways.)

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