South African Airways and Etihad Extend Africa-Middle East Partnership

By Damien Ramkissoon

Etihad Airways and South African Airways have announced a major expansion of their strategic partnership, marking a new era of cooperation between the two national flag carriers. 

As part of the extended cooperation, South African Airways will launch a daily service between Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi on 29 March 2015, which will complement Etihad Airways’ existing flights between the two cities to offer a combined double-daily frequency on the route.

More than 1,000 connections will also be offered each week over Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub to key markets including the GCC region, Middle East, Indian subcontinent, and North and South East Asia.

The airlines have also significantly developed their codeshare agreement to include a total of 49 routes, more than double the previous number. Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad Airways will place its ‘EY’ code on South African Airways’ new Johannesburg-Abu Dhabi flights, in addition to 16 of the airline’s other services from Johannesburg to key destinations across the African continent. In return, South African Airways will place its ‘SA’ code on 32 Etihad Airways routes beyond Abu Dhabi to a range of destinations worldwide.

In addition, the airlines will enhance the alignment of their Etihad Guest and Voyager frequent flyer programs, with even more opportunities for members to earn and redeem miles. Benefits such as priority baggage handling, boarding and check-in, and airport lounge access across the airlines’ networks will be provided based on membership tiers.

Etihad Airways and South African Airways continue to explore areas for further cooperation, including joint sales and marketing programs and the coordination of procurement, facilities and airport operations. Together, these initiatives will optimise synergies between the airlines and provide guests with consistently high product and service levels at the most competitive price.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The partnership between Etihad Airways and South African Airways has been a resounding commercial success for both airlines. Since our codeshare flights were first on sale in July last year, we have placed more than 20,000 passengers onto each other’s flights, and there is huge potential to significantly increase that number as the cooperation is developed in the coming years.

“Importantly, our expanded partnership will enhance the benefits that Etihad Airways and South African Airways offer to business and leisure travellers, such as improved connections, enhanced opportunities to earn and redeem miles, and a more seamless experience.”

Nico Bezuidenhout, SAA’s acting Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our multi-layered partnership with Etihad Airways has been instrumental in allowing South African Airways to establish new connections between the African continent and other markets worldwide for its passengers.

“Under the second phase of our cooperation, we will better serve established regions such as North America, Europe and Australia, while strengthening our presence in fast-growing markets across the Middle East and Asia. In particular, the codeshare expansion will support a planned adjustment of our network to strengthen access into the fast-growing China and India markets.”

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