Not content with upsetting Qantas over its deal with Virgin Australia, Etihad Airways has signed yet another partnership contract, this time with Greece’s Aegean Airlines, linking the two airline’s hubs of Abu Dhabi and Athens.
Etihad – the national airline of the United Arab Emirates – has entered into a codeshare agreement with Aegean to begin four new weekly services between Athens and Abu Dhabi from the end of March.
But beyond these extra flights, the deal promises to break newer ground, allowing for a streamlined service to and from regional Greece for long-haul passengers.
Etihad will place its flight code on Aegean Airlines-operated flights to 16 regional Greek destinations – including Alexandroupolis, Chania, Chios, Heraklion, Ioannina, Kavala, Cephalonia, Corfu, Kos, Lemnos, Mykonos, Mytilene, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, and Thessaloniki.
In return, Aegean will offer new codeshare routes between Athens and seven destinations across Australia, the Gulf region, and South Africa.
Aegean Airlines’ Managing Director Dimitris Gerogiannis said: “By partnering with Etihad Airways, Aegean gains access to the Gulf region and South Africa as well increasing connection opportunities to Australia.”
Mr Gerogiannis added that he was confident that Greek tourism and business would benefit significantly from the new codesharing agreement.
“The combined proposition to business and leisure travellers has never been stronger,” he said.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “We started daily Abu Dhabi-Athens flights in June 2009, and since then, we have experienced strong demand year-on-year.
“The new Aegean-operated Abu Dhabi-Athens flight will complement Etihad Airways’ existing daily operation between the two cities, enhancing access between Greece and the rest of our global network.
“Our customer proposition will also be further strengthened as we will soon be able to place our flight code on Aegean flights to popular Greek destinations,” he said.
The agreement will also offer Etihad customers codeshare access to Aegean-operated European destinations including Vienna, Prague, Rome, Venice, Warsaw, Bucharest, Madrid, Tirana, Sofia and Larnaca.
A reciprocal arrangement will see Aegean Airlines place its A3 flight code on Etihad Airways-operated flights from Abu Dhabi to Athens, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, as well as Bahrain, Kuwait, and Johannesburg.
In December Etihad added more seats between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi by introducing a Boeing 777-300ER to the route.
The larger aircraft offers 328 seats in a three-class configuration – 36 more than the Airbus A340-600 which flew the Abu Dhabi-Melbourne sector previously.
Etihad Airways’ CEO said the introduction of the larger aircraft reflected the importance to Etihad Airways of the Australian market and Melbourne in particular.