Virgin Australia is conspicuous for its absence from the list airline members in Etihad Airways’ new ‘Etihad Airways Partners’ airline alliance arrangement.
Etihad Airways Partners brings together Etihad plus five of the partner airlines in which it holds equity stakes in – airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways and Swiss-based Darwin Airline (which operates as Etihad Regional).
The new partnership will feature joint branding and will see frequent flyer scheme benefits aligned, and should yield commercial benefits such as “access to economies of scale and operational synergies such as centres of excellence, shared sales teams in certain destinations, joint procurement of services and supplies, and shared pilot and cabin crew training at the Etihad Airways facilities in Abu Dhabi”, Eithad said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We are broadening our business model to articulate and define a partner proposition for like-minded airlines which will result in synergies and efficiencies for participating airlines on the one side, and enhanced network choice, service and frequent flyer benefits for the consumer on the other,” James Hogan, Etihad’s president and CEO, said in the statement.
Absent from the list of Etihad Airways Partners is Virgin Australia. Etihad holds a 21 per cent stake in Virgin Australia, alongside fellow airline investors Air New Zealand (26 per cent) and Singapore Airlines (22 per cent), both of which are part of the Star Alliance. To date Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti has eschewed joining an airline alliance, preferring instead to build a network of airline partnerships on a bilateral basis.
Helpfully, the Etihad statement does note that “any airline can become an Etihad Airways Partner even if it is part of an existing alliance, such as airberlin, which is a member of oneworld”.