|Air Serbia joins Etihad Airways Partners|
Etihad Airways has launched a new brand entitled Etihad Airways Partners that includes the Emirati carrier, Air Serbia and four of its other partner airlines in a group that will synchronise schedules and frequent flyer benefits in a similar way to the three global alliances. The effects on the new alliance will be apparent as early as this month with Air Serbia to begin operating flights between Belgrade and Abu Dhabi, as well as from Abu Dhabi to Muscat on behalf of its partner Etihad. Besides Etihad and Air Serbia, the founding members of the new alliance include Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Darwin Airline and Jet Airways. However, any airline can become an Etihad Airways Partner even if it is part of an existing alliance, with Air Berlin being a member of Oneworld itself.
Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan suggests that Etihad Airways Partners differs from "legacy airline alliances" by offering benefits beyond "pure commercial cooperation". "We are a grouping of like-minded airlines working together to improve our competitive offer against those alliances and the major legacy carriers", the airline said in a statement. It added, “The depth of our relationships allow us to go further than the long-established global alliances, from greater network alignment, which maximises flight connectivity, to shared centres of excellence in cabin interior design, catering, in flight entertainment and customer service". As part of the new alliance, Air Serbia’s aircraft will display the Etihad Airways Partners logo which has promptly been added to the airline’s website. The formation of the alliance comes in the lead-up to Air Serbia’s first anniversary, with the carrier keen to emphasise the benefits of its partnership with Etihad.
In addition to its new alliance, Etihad has named Bruno Matheu to the newly created position of CEO for Equity Partners in the Etihad Airways Aviation Group. Mr. Matheu will lead strategic developments to optimise business performance, revenues and cost synergies between Etihad and its equity partners across the world. Mr. Matheu will assume his new role in December 2014, reporting directly to James Hogan. Commenting on the new role, Mr. Hogan said, “I am confident he will be able to direct our partnership strategy and manage the supportive collaboration between our equity partners to optimise its commercial and network benefits within the geo-political environment in which we operate”. Mr. Matheu joins the Etihad Group after two decades at Air France-KLM.