By Andy Sambidge
South Africa's national carrier will launch Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi flights in 2015 as part of agreement
Etihad Airways and South African Airways have announced a major expansion of their strategic partnership, marking a new era of cooperation between the two national flag carriers.
As part of the extended cooperation, South African Airways will launch a daily service between Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi on March 29, 2015, a statement said.
The airlines have also significantly developed their codeshare agreement to include a total of 49 routes, more than double the previous number.
Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad Airways will place its ‘EY’ code on South African Airways’ new Johannesburg-Abu Dhabi flights, in addition to 16 of the airline’s other services from Johannesburg to key destinations across the African continent.
In return, South African Airways will place its ‘SA’ code on 32 Etihad Airways routes beyond Abu Dhabi to a range of destinations worldwide.
In addition, the airlines said they will enhance the alignment of their Etihad Guest and Voyager frequent flyer programmes, with even more opportunities for members to earn and redeem miles.
Etihad Airways and South African Airways said they continue to explore areas for further cooperation, including joint sales and marketing programs and the coordination of procurement, facilities and airport operations.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ president and CEO, said: “The partnership between Etihad Airways and South African Airways has been a resounding commercial success for both airlines.
"Since our codeshare flights were first on sale in July last year, we have placed more than 20,000 passengers onto each other’s flights, and there is huge potential to significantly increase that number as the cooperation is developed in the coming years.
“Importantly, our expanded partnership will enhance the benefits that Etihad Airways and South African Airways offer to business and leisure travellers, such as improved connections, enhanced opportunities to earn and redeem miles, and a more seamless experience.”
Nico Bezuidenhout, SAA’s acting CEO, added: “Our multi-layered partnership with Etihad Airways has been instrumental in allowing South African Airways to establish new connections between the African continent and other markets worldwide for its passengers.
“Under the second phase of our cooperation, we will better serve established regions such as North America, Europe and Australia, while strengthening our presence in fast-growing markets across the Middle East and Asia. In particular, the codeshare expansion will support a planned adjustment of our network to strengthen access into the fast-growing China and India markets.”