Air France/KLM and Etihad Airways have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen their pre-existing partnership.
Passengers can expect more choices through expanded codeshare and interline agreements, as well as enhanced collaboration between the airlines’ operations, loyalty programs, and more.
Air France/KLM and Etihad Airways Expand Partnership
The partnership between Air France/KLM and Etihad Airways has existed since 2012, but this new agreement will further bolster that relationship, and has the potential to offer more value for both the airlines and passengers.
The expanded agreement will see over 40 routes added through the codeshare and interline agreements, including destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.
Etihad Airways will benefit from greater connectivity to Air France/KLM’s extensive network of European destinations, such as Helsinki and Warsaw.
Meanwhile, Air France/KLM will be able to expand their reach in South East Asia and Oceania with Etihad Airways’s network to cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Ho Chi Minh City, and Guangzhou — destinations to which Air France/KLM currently doesn’t fly.
Etihad Airways currently operates daily flights to Paris (CDG) and Amsterdam (AMS), and Air France will launch a new route from Paris (CDG) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) on October 29, 2023.
Passengers originating in Europe on an Air France or KLM flight will soon be able to connect to many Asian and Australian destinations on a single booking with access to Etihad Airways’s network.
Likewise, passengers originating in Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways will enjoy easy connectivity to smaller European markets via flights with Air France and KLM.
Bookings are available as of September 7, 2023, for travel as early as Winter 2023.
Coming Soon: Reciprocal Earning, Redemptions, and Benefits
The customer ground experience may also be enhanced with this enhanced agreement, as the airlines are exploring terminal co-location for easier connections, reciprocal lounge access agreements, and streamlined ground handling services.
Furthermore, Air France/KLM Flying Blue status holders will likely be able to enjoy some perks of their status, such as priority boarding and check-in, when travelling with Etihad Airways. Likewise, elite members of the Etihad Guest loyalty program will enjoy perks on flights operated by Air France/KLM.
However, perhaps the most intriguing part of the Memorandum of Understanding is its proposal for reciprocal points earning and redemptions.
Details at this stage are scarce, but if confirmed, Flying Blue and Etihad Guest loyalty program members could be able to earn and redeem miles interchangeably between the three airlines.
For example, flights from Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi start at just under 30,000 Flying Blue miles for a one-way ticket in economy class, while business class costs 56,250 Flying Blue miles.
It’s unclear whether or not Flying Blue members will have access to Etihad Airways First Class flights for award bookings.
For comparison, Etihad Airways is also a partner with Aeroplan.
Using Aeroplan points, you can book a similar itinerary from Europe to Abu Dhabi for 25,000 Aeroplan points in economy or 45,000 Aeroplan points in business class. Aeroplan also tends to have lower taxes, fees, and surcharges than Air France/KLM Flying Blue.
However, it’s worth noting that long-haul Etihad Airways business class award availability has been absent from Aeroplan for quite some time, and it’s unclear when it will return.
In any event, for Europe-based passengers who frequently travel to Asia or Oceania, the expanded collaboration between the airlines should be a welcome turn of events, as it promises greater flexibility for booking with points and an overall more streamlined travel experience.
Air France/KLM and Etihad Airways have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further strengthen their pre-existing relationship.
Once confirmed, European travellers will enjoy access to easier connections to Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania with Etihad Airways. Likewise, Abu Dhabi-based passengers will enjoy easier connections to Europe with Air France and KLM’s vast network.
It’ll be interesting to learn more about the reciprocal benefits the airlines are exploring, which include the ability to earn and redeem points interchangeably, as well as lounge access and terminal co-location.