Today was expected to be a momentous day in the Middle East’s aviation industry. Lufthansa and Etihad held a press conference. Before the press conference, there was much debate about what would transpire. From arguing whether Etihad would join Star Alliance, to the selling of Air Berlin to Lufthansa, everything was on the table. This morning we finally have some answers.
Lufthansa Etihad Agreement
Etihad and Lufthansa have joined into an agreement that will cover catering and maintenance. The Bloomberg article reports that the airline will begin to use LSG Skychefs for catering outside Abu Dhabi. Etihad will also source maintenance to Lufthansa Technik. The airlines are expanding their partnership beyond just codesharing, though. Etihad will also be relocating terminals in Munich and Frankfurt to facilitate connections. The move comes after the airlines announced a strong codeshare agreement.
The two airlines have become an odd marriage, given that they now share responsibility of Air Berlin. Etihad sold part of Air Berlin to Lufthansa earlier this year. There was speculation that the airline would be sold all together, given that even American cut their codeshares with them. Etihad and Lufthansa will deepen their codeshare agreement, and may possibly expand it further. For now, the airlines will codeshare on German routes for Etihad, and Middle East and Indian Subcontinent routes for Lufthansa.
I am a big fan of Etihad, and I am happy they did not join Star Alliance. They have a strong partnership with oneworld member American. Etihad has some of the best First Class and Business class products out there, and the Residence is in a class of its own. I believe that this is all part of the forced relationship due to Air Berlin, but that they have found a way to make it work. Air Berlin offers a solid Business Class product, but at the same time, so does Lufthansa. The agreement is mostly technical in nature, but it opens up the road for further integration.
What do you think? Should Lufthansa and Etihad strengthen their ties? Should Etihad join Star Alliance? Is it a good idea for Etihad to sell Air Berlin to Lufthansa outright? Let us know!
All photos from Wikimedia Commons, unless otherwise noted.