Are Etihad And Lufthansa Really Considering A Merger?! Here’s An Update


As I posted about earlier today, an Italian newspaper was reporting that Etihad was in talks with Lufthansa over the possibility of buying a stake in them. It was even suggested that the two airlines may enter a full-blown merger, which I was skeptical about.

The relationship between Etihad and Lufthansa is a new one, and is due to their mutual connection to airberlin — Etihad owns a big stake in struggling airberlin, and Lufthansa is essentially saving airberlin by taking over many of their planes, as a way of keeping other ultra low cost carriers out of Germany.

Despite Lufthansa’s previous vocal opposition to Etihad, the two airlines have extended their relationship beyond their connection to airberlin, and are now codesharing.

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The Next 16 First & Business Class Products I’d Like To Review


In early 2016 I set out to review as many new first & business class products as possible, as a way of sprucing up blog content. While I figured I’d really miss the repetitive nature with which I flew many of the world’s best first class products, I’ve found reviewing new airlines to be extremely enjoyable. That goal didn’t stop in 2016, and my goal in 2017 is to try even more new airlines.

In the first couple of weeks of the year I’ve flown business class on EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Royal Brunei, and Emirates, all of which were new products for me.

As I begin to plot out my next big trip, I figured I’d make a list with the next 16 products I really want to review, in no particular order. I’m always curious to hear what you guys think, because at the end of the day my airline selection is based on what you guys are most interested in reading about.

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Here’s How I Plan On Flying The Etihad Residence In 2017


Etihad’s A380 is in many ways revolutionary, especially when it comes to their premium cabin product. Their first class product is simply stunning, with just nine “Apartments” in a 1-1 configuration. Etihad is the only airline to have a single-aisle cabin on the A380.

However, perhaps the aspect of Etihad’s A380 that has gotten them the most publicity is The Residence, which is their private three room suite with butler service. It’s located at the front of the first class cabin, and features a living room, bedroom, and even a private bathroom with shower.

There’s only one slight problem with The Residence — it’s bloody expensive. For example, a one-way ticket from New York to Abu Dhabi will set you back over $29,000 (in fairness, that’s only marginally more than the full fare first class ticket cost). Perhaps the benefit of The Residence is that it seats up to two people, and you can add a second passenger for a small amount.

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Etihad’s CEO Is Expected To Resign Within Three Months

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All three of the Gulf carriers are under immense financial pressure from their respective governments to cut costs. For years the governments in the UAE and Qatar seemed to throw unlimited funds at their state-owned airlines, though that’s quickly changing.

In the past few weeks there have been rumors of layoffs at both Emirates and Etihad. Supposedly Emirates is in the process of firing their cabin crew recruiters, which should give you an idea of their hiring forecast.

Arguably Etihad is in a significantly worse financial situation, though. They’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in other airlines, including airberlin, Alitalia, Air Serbia, etc., and those investments aren’t paying off.

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Be Alerted When Etihad Award Seats Become Available


ExpertFlyer is a subscription based website that I find very useful as a frequent flyer. It’s useful for looking up flight seatmaps, searching award availability, looking up minimum connection times at airports, looking at available fare buckets, etc.

However, for many the single most useful aspect of ExpertFlyer is the ability to set award availability alerts. In other words, you can set an alert for a specific type of award on a specific flight, and ExpertFlyer will email and text you when that seat becomes available.

Given how many airlines open up award availability last minute nowadays, that’s a fantastic tool to have access to, rather than refreshing award availability all the time, like many of us do.

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The Airberlin, Etihad, And Lufthansa Threesome Heats Up Even More


I just can’t get over the situation in Germany right now between Lufthansa, Etihad, and airberlin. On the surface this all seems so backwards — Lufthansa is essentially bailing out their biggest regional competitor, and Lufthansa is also finally partnering with Etihad, a carrier they’ve claimed has threatened their very existence for years. But over a very short period of time, that has all changed.

I feel like it’s easiest to explain this in bullet point format:

— Airberlin has been in a horrible financial situation for a while and has been bleeding money with no end in sight
— Etihad owns a 29% stake in airberlin, and has basically threatened to cut them off, which has meant that radical changes are needed
— As part of this, Lufthansa will be taking over 38 planes from airberlin, and using them primarily for Eurowings, which is their low cost division
— It seems odd for Lufthansa to essentially bail out their biggest competitor (since it’s very possible Lufthansa will also lose money when they operate these planes), but the goal is really to keep Ryanair and EasyJet out of Germany as much as possible, and Lufthansa knows that if airberlin goes out of business, those airlines will flood the market

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If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: Etihad & Lufthansa Announce Codeshare Agreement


As I’ve written about several times over the past few months, airberlin is in financial trouble, and Etihad has a big stake in them. The airline has fundamentally had an identity crisis, and hasn’t been able to decide whether they’re a leisure carrier or business carrier, and has been bleeding money with no end in sight.

Fortunately it looks like some changes are finally happening. As I wrote about in September, Lufthansa will be leasing several dozen planes from airberlin, and using them to operate flights for their own low cost division, Eurowings. I’m not actually confident that Lufthansa will perform much better in those markets, but I’m not sure that’s their primary motivation.

On the surface it seems odd for Lufthansa to help their biggest domestic competitor, rather than just letting them go out of business. However, their motive is clear — the biggest threat to Lufthansa on regional flights is carriers like Easyjet and Ryanair, which up until now haven’t been able to gain too much market share in Germany. Lufthansa knows that if airberlin goes out of business, those carriers will flood the market.

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Wide Open Business Class Awards To Europe For 36,620 Miles Roundtrip


This morning View from the Wing wrote about how there’s wide open transatlantic business class award availability on Brussels Airlines and United Airlines to Brussels, Belgium. While 57,500-70,000 miles for a one-way business class award ticket is a decent deal, this caught my attention for a very different reason.

As I wrote about in May, the single best value transatlantic business class award out there is between New York and Brussels on Brussels Airlines when redeeming Etihad Guest miles. Etihad charges just 36,620 miles for the roundtrip ticket in business class. The total taxes and fees per passenger should be under $100. That’s not a typo, you read that right.

That’s the cost exclusively between New York and Brussels, though adding on additional flights within Europe won’t be expensive. For example, a roundtrip award from Brussels to Paris will cost you just 1,550 miles in business class. You can find the full point-to-point award chart here. Of course Brussels has a very central location, so it’s also a great point from which to start a train journey.

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Ranking The Lounges At LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal

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Over the past few years Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX has undergone a very nice renovation, and I’d argue it’s now possibly the nicest terminal in the US (though arguments could certainly be made for a few other terminals as well).

If you’re someone who typically flies in premium cabins or has elite status, you may also appreciate Tom Bradley International Terminal for the fact that it has some of the best airline lounges in the US. However, not all of these lounges are created equal, so I figured it would be fun to rank the lounges, from best to worst.

Up front let me add that the disclaimer that everyone is looking for different things when it comes to lounges, so there’s no objective, universal way to rank these from best to worst. Some lounges have great food, some have great cocktails, some are spacious, some are quiet, etc. I’ll try to mention those attributes below, though I’m not suggesting my ranking should work for everyone.

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Rumors Of Fleet, Job, And Service Cuts Coming To Alitalia


Etihad Airways’ expansion strategy has largely been based around having equity stakes in foreign airlines, rather than growing their own fleet too much. Etihad has invested in airberlin, Air Serbia, Alitalia, Jet Airways, etc.

While I understand the Jet Airways investment since it gives Etihad more access to the India market, their other investments are a bit more puzzling.

With Etihad in cost cutting mode due to decreasing oil revenue for the UAE, it seems that they’re less willing to throw money at their other airlines as well. For example, Etihad is slowly cutting off airberlin, as they realize there’s no end in sight to the airlines’ losses.

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Etihad Is Pulling Out Of South America


With oil prices having plummeted over the past couple of years, it’s no surprise that the Gulf carriers are having to cut costs. Their respective governments aren’t willing to throw quite as much money at them as before, so in many cases they’re having to cut costs while focusing on optimizing their route network.

Of the “big three” Gulf carriers, Etihad is the smallest. At least that’s true in terms of their actual fleet size. Rather than growing their own fleet too much, the airline has been investing in other airlines, including airberlin, Air Serbia, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, etc.

As of now, Etihad’s only route to South America is between Abu Dhabi and Sao Paulo, which they presently operate daily using an Airbus A340-600 aircraft.

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Disappointing: Etihad Updates The Terms Of Their Status Challenge Promotion

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A couple of days ago I wrote about how Etihad has a special fast track status promotion for readers of The Times. Through the promotion, new members of Etihad Guest could receive Silver status after taking one flight in economy, or Gold after taking one flight in business or first class.

As I mentioned in the post, there were suspiciously few terms associated with the promotion. In order to qualify you just had to register by November 24, 2016, and fly by May 10, 2017. They didn’t specify where travel had to originate, what kind of a ticket you had to book, etc.

Well, unfortunately Etihad Guest has updated the terms of this promotion, as follows:

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Earn Etihad Guest Gold Status With Just One Flight

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Etihad seems to have a special fast track status promotion for readers of The Times, which has suspiciously few terms & conditions.

Specifically, if you register for Etihad Guest at this link and then fly by May 10, 2017, you can earn status:

— Receive Etihad Guest Silver status after taking a flight in economy
— Receive Etihad Guest Gold status after taking a flight in business or first class

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