Air France-KLM and Gulf carrier Etihad Airways have agreed a deal to widen their existing co-operation to cover additional codeshare flights as well as activities in passenger loyalty, talent development and maintenance.

The SkyTeam carrier group and the Gulf airline, which have been codeshare partners since 2012, have today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering deeper collaboration.

Air France A350

Source: Air France

Air France will resume its own Abu Dhabi flights from the end of October using Airbus A350 aircraft

This includes an initial step of expanding their codeshare to cover a further 40 routes from this winter.

Etihad serves both Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle from Abu Dhabi, while Air France will this winter resume its own Abu Dhabi flights from its Paris hub for the first time since its began codesharing with the Gulf carrier. KLM is yet to restore the Amsterdam-Abu Dhabi service it operated up until the pandemic.

The preliminary agreement also envisages reciprocal benefits for frequent flyers from the respective airlines, as well as exploring terminal co-location, ground handling and reciprocal lounge access opportunities.

Air France-KLM chief commercial officer Angus Clarke says: “This 11-year collaboration is now expanding even further, as we aim to explore opportunities in maintenance and loyalty, in addition to enhancing our route network for the benefit of our customers from all around the world.

”The attractiveness of Abu Dhabi as a destination and a hub, powered by Etihad’s large footprint spanning South and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia, brings significant richness to this partnership.”

Etihad chief revenue officer Arik De says: “This MoU builds on our existing partnership by exploring deeper network enhancements as we offer improved connectivity between Abu Dhabi and Paris, and leveraging the extensive Air France-KLM network to Europe and beyond. It reaffirms Etihad’s intent to bolster Abu Dhabi’s cultural and economic growth.”

It comes as Abu Dhabi Airports Group announced that its new Midfield terminal project, originally expected to open in 2017, will be operational from early November.