Lufthansa adjusts codeshares as Turkish ties cool

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Lufthansa and its wholly-owned subsidiary Austrian Airlines have called off their codeshare agreements with Turkish Airlines and will also reduce bonus miles which passengers can collect on flights with their Istanbul-based Star Alliance partner.

The move comes as competition between the two groups intensifies. From January 2014, Lufthansa and Austrian will credit passengers only a quarter of the status miles, which both airlines are currently granting customers when they book Turkish Airlines flights in combination with their own flights. However, there is no change in the allocation of separate award miles, which are more relevant for buying merchandise products.

The codeshare agreements will expire with the beginning of the summer 2014 schedule at the end of March

Changing commercial circumstances have been cited by Lufthansa as the cause for the cooler relations with Turkish. The codeshare agreements and passenger benefits were put in place, when the networks of both airlines largely complemented in each other. Meanwhile, however, the two groups have increasingly become competitors.

For example, while Austrian flies a daily return flight between Vienna and Istanbul, Turkish offers far more capacity on the route with up to four flights a day. Granting Austrian customers benefits for travelling with Turkish Airlines thus makes no commercial sense, says the Alpine carrier.

Adjusting codeshare and benefits schemes when commercial circumstances change is “nothing unusual”, says Lufthansa. While the German carrier and Turkish are partners within Star Alliance, codeshare agreements depend on the individual circumstances and are made on a bilateral basis.

The changed relationship will not affect Lufthansa's co-operation with Turkish within Star Alliance or both carriers' joint venture leisure carrier Sun Express, says the Frankfurt-based airline.

Nevertheless, the end of the codeshare agreements comes after more than a year of much-rumoured talks about potentially closer ties between Lufthansa and Turkish.