UAE national carrier Etihad Airways and German airline Lufthansa have announced a “deep and wide” partnership that includes codesharing, catering and aircraft maintenance.
Etihad’s outgoing CEO James Hogan described the deal as “the most significant non-equity partnership with an airline that we have announced”.
It marks a shift away from equity investments towards operations collaborations at a time when Etihad is reviewing the equity partnerships with an expectation that it will “adjust” them.
Lufthansa CEO and Chairman Carlston Spohr said the deal was “just the first steps announced today”.
Under the agreement, Etihad will move its operations at airports in Berlin and Munich to the same terminal as Lufthansa, to allow for easier transition for passengers.
It includes a four-year, $100 million contract for Lufthansa’s catering arm to provide in-flight meals for Etihad plus its equity partner airlines – the Abu Dhabi airline’s largest such contract outside its home base.
During a press conference to announce the partnership, Spohr deliberately referred to claims that Etihad and two other Gulf airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways, receive government support, insisting that Lufthansa’s opposition to state subsidies remained.
“We haven’t changed our opinion on this and we have stood firm,” he said.
The executives also said their partnership would help to overcome the increasing protectionist view globally.