A trailblazer among airlines, Etihad Airways has founded its own airline ‘alliance,’ called Etihad Airways Partners, after rebuffing membership with major groups such as Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam. The novel alliance consists of five Etihad partners including Airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways, and Darwin Airline. Notably absent from the alliance is Virgin Australia, in which Etihad holds a 21 percent stake. Etihad says membership in the group is open to any airline, regardless of existing affiliations, and that the partnership aims for mutually beneficial relationships beyond pure commercial cooperation. “The potential for network alignment to maximize flight connectivity for passengers, together with a shared passion for superior service, are central to the ethos of the Etihad Airways Partner concept,” said Etihad CEO James Hogan. A primary goal of the partnership is to streamline frequent flyer programs, reducing the complexity and confusion. Said an Etihad Airways spokesperson, “It would be wrong to describe Etihad Airways Partners as similar to the traditional alliances. We are a grouping of like-minded airlines working together to improve our competitive offer against those alliances and the major legacy carriers. However, the depth of our relationships allow us to go further than the long-established global alliances, from greater network alignment which maximizes flight connectivity to shared centers of excellence in cabin interior design, catering, IFE, and customer service.”
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