By Ed Attwood
Deal adds five destinations for UAE carrier, follows controversial link-up with Virgin Blue
Etihad Airways has increased its focus on the lucrative Australasian air travel market by signing a new codeshare deal with Air New Zealand.
The announcement comes a week after Australia’s competition watchdog approved the UAE carrier’s decision to tie up a similar deal with Virgin Blue.
The Air New Zealand codeshare will offer Etihad’s customers new flight options to several cities in the country, including Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
If cleared by New Zealand’s regulatory authorities, the new services will go on sale by the end of February.
Both airlines have agreed to integrate their loyalty programmes, allowing customers to spend and earn miles on each other’s flights.
“This new codeshare illustrates Etihad’s growing ambitions in the Asia Pacific region. It opens up five key destinations in New Zealand that we have been eager to offer our customers for a long time and we are certain the connections and seamless flight experience offered by Etihad and Air New Zealand will appeal to business and leisure travellers,” said Etihad CEO James Hogan, in a company statement.
The Abu Dhabi carrier’s move to tie up with Virgin Blue provoked opposition from Qantas, which raised concerns on the impact of prices between Abu Dhabi and Europe.
That agreement effectively added 44 new destinations to Etihad’s roster, and Australian newspaper reports suggested that both airlines were planning to build a joint lounge at Sydney Airport.
Excellent Stuff Mr Hogan! I hope that this development may usher in some real competition on the 'routes down under' with the Dubai based airline! Hopefully the details will be made clear soon !