Etihad alliance a win-win for airline
Qantas Airways is discussing an alliance with Etihad Airways to take effect when the United Arab Emirates-based airline begins flights to Sydney later this year.
The partnership could give Qantas the right to offer services into Europe and other destinations via Abu Dhabi, while allowing Etihad to sell tickets to other destinations in Australia.
Etihad, which was granted daily access to Australia on January 8, will confirm on Monday that it will start flights three times a week to Sydney shortly, increasing to daily flights by June.
Although it wants to add flights to other capital cities, these are unlikely to be approved in the short term, making an alliance with a domestic carrier necessary to drive traffic from other capitals.
Etihad flies to 36 other destinations as well as Abu Dhabi.
Etihad appointed Australian James Hogan, the former chief executive of Gulf Air, as its CEO in October. It has been operating since 2003, modelled on the rapid success of Emirates, which is based in neighbouring Dubai.
Transport Minister Mark Vaile said earlier this month discussions on changes to the aviation arrangements between Australia and the United Arab Emirates would take place early this year.
Dubai-based Emirates, the fourth-largest airline operating services to Australia after Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand, wants the right to fly four times a day to Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney by 2014.
This would be more than double its flights to and from Australia.
Melbourne Airport and Brisbane Airport have bemoaned the number of airlines operating from Sydney only and called for the federal government to lift restrictions on foreign airlines' access.
However, Brisbane Airport spokesman Jim Carden yesterday said Sydney was the "natural choice" for Etihad's first services.
"It's good for capacity overall into Australia and Etihad will grow like all other new entrants and we hope to have them here one day," Mr Carden said. "But we do have a capacity issue here in Brisbane."
Melbourne Airport's general manager of international routes, Geoffrey Conaghan, told The Australian Financial Review on Monday he welcomed Etihad's arrival even if the Middle Eastern carrier did not fly to Melbourne at first.
Melbourne Airport reported flat growth in international traffic for the year to date, and Victorian opposition spokesman for industry and state development David Davis yesterday called for state support for the removal of restrictions on foreign flights to the city.
"Steve Bracks and the Labor government are afraid to speak publicly for fear of offending Qantas," Mr Davis said.
Source: Australian Financial Review - Wednesday 24 January 2007
[Edited 2007-01-25 14:30:31]
Qantas, Still calling Australia Home.........
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