Former rivals Etihad Airways and Lufthansa have joined forces to codeshare on each other’s flights from early next year in a partnership both airline groups appear willing to extend.
The agreement will see Lufthansa place its LH code on Etihad’s twice daily non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi and Frankfurt and Munich.
The Gulf carrier’s EY code will go on Lufthansa long-haul routes from Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as well as Bogota, Colombia.
The move comes as Etihad’s investment in Germany, airberlin, signed a deal with Lufthansa Group to wet lease (a lease that includes the crew) 38 aircraft at “competitive rates”.
Thirty-three of the airberlin aircraft will go Lufthansa offshoot Eurowings and five to Austrian Airlines.
The deal complements a wider move by airberlin, in which the Etihad Group has a 29 per cent stake, to set up a new leisure carrier in Europe in co-operation with travel group TUI.
Etihad Aviation Group chief executive James Hogan raised the prospect of further co-operation between the two airline groups, noting the Abu Dhabi carrier had long seen Germany as a key strategic market.
“Lufthansa is highly respected globally and I’m very pleased that we will work together in the future for the benefit of our customers,’’ he said in a statement.
Additionally, we are, in our role as a minority shareholder in airberlin, fully supportive of the separate agreement reached today with the Lufthansa Group to wet lease 38 airberlin aircraft.
“It is very clear to us at Etihad Airways that Lufthansa is a like-minded, forward-thinking organisation with which we can do strong, meaningful and mutually beneficial business.”
Lufthansa Group chief executive Carsten Spohr said the wet-lease contract with airberlin would foster the growth of Eurowings and the codeshare agreement would more benefits to customers and complement both airlines’ networks.
“We will consider extending our cooperation in other areas,” he said.