Austrian Airlines on March 7 introduced the first wet-leased Air Berlin A320 into service for Lufthansa Group. The aircraft, D-ABZA, flew in Austrian colors from Vienna to Skopje. D-ABZC entered service for OS in March 8.
D-ABZA and D-ABZC are the first 2 of 5 Air Berlin aircraft that will operate for Austrian. Under the wet-lease agreement, the aircraft will carry OS colors, however the crew that you will see aboard the plane will be dressed in their Air Berlin uniforms since technically the employees are on lease from Air Berlin.
D-ABZA shows off her new Austrian Colors. Photo courtesy of Austrian Airlines.
This opportunity for Austrian to expand their fleet and reach comes after Lufthansa agreed with Air Berlin to sublet 40 Air Berlin aircraft in order to help Air Berlin restructure their operations in an attempt to return to profitability. Air Berlin’s key investor, Etihad, was instrumental in working with LH to make the deal possible.
D-ABZC in her old AB colors…..
Most of the 40 aircraft will be painted in LH Group’s Eurowings livery and will be deployed on routes that EW normally serves along with a few new additions thanks to having an airport full of new planes to deploy.
Ahead of an announcement expected from Etihad and Lufthansa tomorrow from Abu Dhabi, details are starting to emerge regarding a deepening relationship between the 2 carriers.
Building on recent developments including Lufthansa’s take over of certain Air Berlin aircraft and routes in order to reduce the burden for Etihad (A large stake holder in AB), it appears now that Etihad is set to further seek Lufthansa’s assistance as it tries to re-sort itself.
Coming from various news outlets, including Bloomberg, it appears that Etihad is set to transfer their MRO operations (Maintenance / Repair / Overhaul) to Lufthansa Technik. Additionally, Etihad will transfer their catering operation to Lufthansa’s LSG Skychefs. There is also the potential for the relationship to expand to include Lufthansa handling much of Etihad’s security and ground services in certain parts of the world where both airlines are present. I expect we’ll find out the timing of these transactions during tomorrow’s event.
There has also been some chatter regarding the potential of Etihad joining Star Alliance, but that seems to be a bit of a stretch at this point based on Etihad’s involvement with other partners that are in direct competition with Star Alliance. But one never knows what can be announced.
There may be more to the announcement tomorrow, so you may see a follow up to this post.
In an announcement from Frankfurt earlier today, Lufthansa has announced that it has entered into a codeshare arrangement with Etihad geared towards making it easier for the airlines to expand their reach.
The expansion of the relationship between the 2 carriers continues to evolve after LH agreed to lease a substantial part of Air Berlin’s fleet to help AB stave off further financial turmoil. Etihad is a major stakeholder in Air Berlin and they were very supportive of the arrangement which allows AB to refocus their efforts. That deal was finalized today as well.
The codesharing relationship starts in January 2017 and will cover Etihad’s 2 daily flights between Frankfurt and Abu Dhabi and their 2 daily flights between Munich and Abu Dhabi. What this means is that there will be an Lufthansa flight number (LH xxx) assigned to the Etihad operated flights, so that Lufthansa passengers can book travel on those specific Etihad flights directly from LH.com or through their travel agents.
In turn, Etihad will will assign their flight numbers to Lufthansa operated flights that operate from Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro and Bogota. This allows Etihad to book their passengers directly onto these LH flights.
Please note that flights operated by Etihad will not earn any miles towards Miles & More balances, or any other Star Alliance Frequent Flyer program.