Jet Airways says Air France-KLM tie-up won’t affect Etihad alliance
New Delhi: Jet Airways (India) Ltd will continue its relationship with Etihad Airways even as it announced a new agreement with rival Air France-KLM group on Wednesday.
Etihad Airways had bought 24% of Jet Airways in 2013 and Jet had increased feeds to Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi.
“We have a great relation with Etihad which will continue. That will not be disturbed in any way,” Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal said at a press conference in Mumbai on Wednesday, pre-empting any questions on the relationship with Etihad. The Air France “partnership will be very good for our Indian friends (passengers)”.
Etihad and Air France also compete with each other for India traffic. Air France is also part of the Sky Team airline alliance while Etihad had bought equity stakes into airlines to stitch an alliance of its own under former chief James Hogan. Hogan has since moved on.
The two airlines did not announce any equity stake but said the enhanced cooperation agreement will see Jet Airways, Air France, and KLM working together to develop their commercial and product offering allowing passengers to use the three partners’ networks spanning 44 cities in India and 106 destinations across Europe.
Jet moved its Europe hub from Brussels to Amsterdam over one and half years ago and has recently launched Bengaluru-Amsterdam and Chennai-Paris, while Amsterdam-Mumbai has been launched by KLM. Both groups said they will also collaborate on their miles club cargo and complement the Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines’ transatlantic partnership between Europe and North America, offering access to over 200 destinations in North America, establishing global cooperation connecting the three continents.
Jet Airways Group currently operates a fleet of 115 aircraft, while Air France-KLM has a fleet of 534 planes.
The cooperation between the two airlines comes at a time when more airlines are looking at tapping the international market.
IndiGo has said it hopes to start long-haul international flights soon, while SpiceJet too has said it is looking at that model. Air India, on the other hand, is already expanding its footprint with Boeing 787 induction.
An analyst, who did not wished to be named, said the move could be part of Jet’s plan to focus on its strengths in the long term.
“Jet might ultimately withdraw its trans Atlantic flights—when exactly is difficult to say. Delta may pitch for a stake in Jet Airways in due course. Again it may be in a few months or longer depending on how deep Jet pockets are—they can't sustain their losses forever,” the analyst said.
Aviation consulting firm CAPA said the alliance will enhance Jet’s network competitiveness and customer value significantly.
“I don’t see relationship with Etihad as relevant now,” CAPA’s South Asia chief executive officer Kapil Kaul said.