Etihad Airways has unveiled Etihad Airways Partners, a new brand that brings together like-minded airlines to offer customers more choice through improved networks and schedules and enhanced frequent flyer benefits.Initially, six airlines will participate in the new partnership: airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways, Darwin Airline, and Etihad Airways. Meanwhile, Etihad has deployed mobile and Internet connectivity across its entire fleet of 24 Boeing 777 passenger aircraft.
However, any airline can become an Etihad Airways Partner, even if it is part of an existing alliance, such as airberlin, which is a member of Oneworld.The key emphasis for Etihad Airways Partners is a strong commercial partnership and shared values.
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive, Etihad Airways, said: “We are broadening our business model to articulate and define a partner proposition for like-minded airlines that will result in synergies and efficiencies for participating airlines on the one side, and enhanced network choice, service and frequent flyer benefits for the consumer on the other.
“The Etihad Airways Partners logo is a seal of excellence and global co-operation. It will be displayed on aircraft and on branded materials by a group of airlines working together to connect travellers around the world, and increasingly to harmonise standards in the air and on the ground.”
He added that Etihad Airways Partners differed from legacy airline alliances by offering benefits well beyond pure commercial co-operation.“The potential for network alignment to maximise flight connectivity for passengers, together with a shared passion for superior service, are central to the ethos of the Etihad Airways Partner concept.
“Frequent flyers will benefit from the formation of Etihad Airways Partners as it will remove the complexity and confusion that exists within the global alliances.We are aiming to deliver a consistent experience for frequent flyers when they travel, as well as a consistent framework for earning and using their miles.”
This will include standardised mileage and tier benefits across all partners, no blackout periods and priority services.
Etihad Airways Partners will also have access to economies of scale and operational synergies such as centres of excellence, shared sales teams in certain destinations, joint procurement of services and supplies, and shared pilot and cabin crew training at the Etihad Airways facilities in Abu Dhabi.
B777 Inflight Connectivity
Meanwhile, Etihad Airways has reached a milestone with the deployment of mobile and Internet connectivity across its entire fleet of 24 Boeing 777 passenger aircraft, making it easier for guests to stay in touch with friends, family and work while in the air.
This milestone comes only months before the airline’s entire fleet of 89 passenger aircraft is connected, which will make Etihad Airways the first in the region, and one of the few airlines in the world, to offer mobile and Internet connectivity services on every aircraft. The passenger fleet includes 28 Airbus A320s, 26 A330s, 11 A340s and 24 B777 family aircraft.
The full suite of inflight connectivity services on the fleet includes wi-fi, mobile services and Live TV. The services combine the ‘Etihad Wi-Fly’ solution, powered by the Panasonic Avionics Global Communications Suite, and OnAir’s inflight connectivity solution.
Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are a global market leader in terms of onboard connectivity solutions. We believe that onboard connectivity is an important competitive differentiator for our guests and are continuously introducing new communications technology to enhance their travel experience.
“The roll out of our state-of-the-art connectivity solution will give our modern connected guests a seamless, robust experience at 35,000 feet, similar to what they expect at home or work.”
Guests will be able to enjoy high-speed broadband services on wi-fi-enabled devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops, allowing them to surf the Internet, update social media, purchase gifts, upgrade seats, change travel plans and much more, all from the comfort of their seat.
The mobile connectivity service can be accessed by guests using their mobile phones and smartphones to make and receive phone-calls, send and receive text messages and emails, and use mobile data services.
The Live TV onboard service allows guests to watch live news and major sporting events on seven popular television channels: BBC World News, CNBC, CNN, euronews, Japan’s NHK World Premium, Sky News Arabia, and Sport 24. The recent GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship Final and Replay were also shown live on all Etihad Airways flights.
Cabin crew and flight deck operations can also utilise wi-fi connections to handle medical emergencies. The crew is empowered to manage inflight guest issues by phone or email in real-time with the airline’s ground teams based in Abu Dhabi. Connectivity is also paving the way for the airline to enhance the guest experience through increased onboard retail opportunities, with the added benefit of real-time credit card transactions.
Packages to access the Internet start at US$5 and can be purchased using credit cards, PayPal and a range of other convenient payment methods. Mobile telephone usage will be billed by the guest’s mobile service providers based on the international roaming rates levied by the service providers.
Etihad Airways’ Boeing 777 aircraft are used for long-haul destinations across the airline’s network, such as Dublin, Los Angeles, Washington DC, London, Manchester, Düsseldorf, Paris, Sydney, Melbourne, São Paulo, Bangkok and Jakarta.