x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Air New Zealand code-share extends Etihad's reach

Etihad adds Air New Zealand to its list of code-share partners.

Etihad Airways has pushed deeper into the Australasian market with a code-share partnership with Air New Zealand.

The news comes just weeks before the Abu Dhabi airline is to launch a strategic alliance with Virgin Blue of Australia that will extend its network into the region with the addition of 45 destinations.

"This new code share illustrates Etihad's growing ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region," said James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad. "It opens up five key destinations in New Zealand that we have been eager to offer our customers for a long time."

The deal will see Etihad's EY code placed on Air New Zealand flights between Sydney and Christchurch, Rotorua, Wellington and Queenstown. The Etihad code will also be placed on Air New Zealand flights between Brisbane and Auckland, Brisbane and Christchurch and also between Beijing and Auckland.

The agreement will integrate the two airlines' loyalty programmes, Air New Zealand Airpoints and the UAE carrier's Etihad Guest, enabling customers to earn and redeem air miles on the two carriers.

"We are certain the connections … offered by Etihad and Air New Zealand will appeal to business and leisure travellers," Mr Hogan said.

Australian authorities last week formally approved Etihad Airways' alliance with Virgin Blue, including permitting the Virgin Blue subsidiary V Australia to launch non-stop flights to Abu Dhabi from February 24 and use the UAE capital as an international hub.

Etihad, Virgin Blue and Air New Zealand have all signed partnership agreements with each other in the past six months as they take on the region's biggest airline, Qantas, particularly for the lucrative corporate market.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last December conditionally authorised Virgin Blue and Air New Zealand to partner on flights between Australia and New Zealand. Air New Zealand announced last month it had acquired a substantial shareholding in Virgin Blue, bringing its stake to 14.9 per cent.

Rob Fyfe, the chief executive of Air New Zealand, said the arrangement with Etihad would boost the airline's "trans-Tasman" business for the Australia to New Zealand travel market.

Under the terms of the deal, Etihad will be able to sell tickets on Air New Zealand flights into Melbourne from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

In return, Air New Zealand will place its NZ code on Etihad's flights to London and 11 flights a week from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, as well as other services from the UAE capital to Brisbane, Melbourne and Beijing.