Move over Star Alliance, One World, and Sky Team - there's a new alliance in town. Today, Etihad announced the launch of its own alliance, Etihad Airways Partners.
The initial members of the alliance will include airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, India's Jet Airways, and Darwin Airlines, all of whom already had existing relationships with Etihad. According to Etihad, the goal is create "a new brand which brings together like-minded airlines to offer customers more choice through improved networks and schedules and enhanced frequent flyer benefits."
Interestingly enough, Etihad Airways Partner membership will be open to any airline even if they are part of an existing alliance, which is certainly the case with airberlin which is part of Oneworld.
Along the lines of enhanced frequent flyer benefits, James Hogan, Etihad's president and CEO, went on to say that frequent flyer benefits will include:
"Standardized mileage and tier benefits across all partners, no blackout periods and priority services. Frequent flyers will benefit... as it will remove the complexity and confusion that exists within the global alliances. We're aiming to deliver a consistent experience for frequent flyers when they travel, as well as a consistent framework for earning and using their miles."
As it stands with the initial membership, this is clearly far from a global powerhouse alliance, and in all likelihood may never materialize into one. To me, this feels very similar to what Alaska Airlines has built out which is essentially its own independent alliance filled with members of the 3 major alliances. Ultimately, I think this is still a very smart move to formalize the frequent flyer benefits across all partners, and will be interested to see which airlines are added in the future.
And in the copycat game that the gulf carriers play, what's the over/under on how long until Emirates announces the roll-out of "Emirates Partners" alliance.