Etihad Airways boss James Hogan will not stand in the way of one his equity partners joining a global alliance, despite his view that the concept is “fractured”.
Hogan has consistently stated that he sees no value for Etihad to join Oneworld, Star Alliance or SkyTeam: “We work with airlines across all the alliances. The problem is [with joining an alliance] is that while we’re not aligned, everybody’s prepared to work with us.”
He adds that his personal view is that recent landmark partnerships such as the Qantas/Emirates tie-up, is proof that the alliance “model is fractured”.
But this position would not prevent airlines in which Etihad holds a stake from being in an alliance “if it is the right thing for them to do”, says Hogan.
Air Berlin is currently the only alliance member among the six airlines in which Etihad holds, or is finalising the acquisition of, a minority stake. The German carrier was in the process of joining Oneworld when Etihad acquired its 29% stake, but it did not block the airline joining.
“As a shareholder, we could have discouraged the Air Berlin alliance move, but I’m happy for Air Berlin to work within Oneworld, if it benefits Air Berlin,” says Hogan.
Etihad is close to completing a deal to acquire a 24% stake in India’s Jet Airways, and again Hogan says an alliance move would not be discouraged “if it made sense for Jet and it improved their business and didn’t impact our business. In any agreement there are ‘carve-outs’ where there are areas of overlap,” he says.
India’s major airlines have long been courted by the alliances, but none has yet completed a deal to join. The now defunct Kingfisher was earmarked for Oneworld, while Star has been in on/off talks to secure Air India. Jet has been subject to much speculation about joining one of the groups, in particular Star.