United Arab Emirates flag-carrier Etihad Airways has outlined plans to expand its footprint in South America.
Speaking at the World Routes Development Forum presently being held in Abu Dhabi, chief executive James Hogan confirmed the airline was in discussions with South American-based carriers about potential commercial partnerships.
Such partnerships would slot into an already well developed global business model, with Etihad maintaining working arrangements with a number of other operators, rather than a more traditional alliance membership.
Etihad Airways - considered the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards - currently has 38 codeshare partnerships with airlines around the globe, resulting in a combined network of 323 destinations, which is more than any other Middle Eastern airline.
Beyond its own organic growth, codeshare partnerships and equity stakes are a significant and growing part of the airline’s expansion strategy.
Etihad presently holds a 30 per cent stake of airberlin, 40 per cent of Air Seychelles, three per cent of Aer Lingus and ten per cent of Virgin Australia.
The airline will launch its first route in South America on June 1st, 2013, with daily non-stop flights between Sao Paulo, Brazil and its home base of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.
James Hogan has led Etihad Airways to unprecedented success
Typical of the Etihad model is the latest deal with Saudi Arabia-based nasair, with the airlines signing an agreement to codeshare on 26 flight sectors across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
Within the agreement Etihad will place its ‘EY’ code on nasair flights between the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Medinah and Etihad Airways’ home base, Abu Dhabi.
nasair will place its ‘XY’ code on Etihad Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Colombo, Dhaka, Kuwait, Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Tehran, Beirut, Bahrain, Muscat, Jakarta, Amman, Damascus, Basra, Baghdad, Erbil, Khartoum, Cairo, Tripoli, Istanbul and subsequently on flights operating to Europe, the Americas and South East Asia over the coming months.
Subject to regulatory approvals, Etihad and nasair will display their respective codes on these routes during their winter schedules.
Hogan: “This codeshare agreement with nasair continues Etihad Airways’ pledge to connect air travellers with key destinations on our network and those of our partner airlines.”
In addition to the codeshare with nasair, Etihad Airways has 38 other codeshare agreements in place with airlines across the world.
Codeshare partnerships, along with equity acquisitions and organic growth, form the three pillars of Etihad Airways expansion plans.