It has been hanging in the air for a while and now it was announced that Abu Dhabi based Etihad has teamed up with Air France-KLM. The agreement covers a codeshare deal in which passengers can travel on one ticket on the airlines on certain routes between Abu Dhabi and Paris and Amsterdam. In addition Air France-KLM now also shares codes with Air Berlin, a 30% subsidiary of Etihad.
Early August Emirates landed it’s A380 for the first time at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. Emirates is a fierce competitor to both Etihad and Air France-KLM and the opening of the connection between Dubai and Amsterdam with the huge A380 was a huge advantage to Emirates. From this perspective it makes sense that the rivals team up against a common enemy. Now passengers will experience easier connections and will be able to fly with one ticket from Abu Dhabi connecting in Amsterdam or Paris.
In other industries we often see one of a kind alliances to create new solutions, access markets or knowledge. Only rarely we see large consolidation like movements like we see in airline alliances. From an alliance perspective, and as a relative outsider to the airline industry, I find this an intriguing development. Even though the benefits for the traveler are obvious I would challenge the fact if a continues consolidation through alliances is the answer to sustain a healthy airliner. Alliances like we know in other industries may help to create a distinguishing offer for an airliner allowing to increase overall margins. As such it might be of interest to look across the borders of the airline industry into other industries and look for breakthrough synergies. An exploratory journey that will ask for creativity and that will not be easy, but can be highly rewarding.