The Abu Dhabi-based carrier hinted that further action could be taken to adjust its US services.
American announced in July it would end codeshares with both Etihad and Qatar Airways because of its long-running complaint that the major Gulf carriers receive government subsidies that do not comply with the Open Skies agreements with the UAE and Qatar. The last day of the Etihad codeshare operation will be March 24, 2018.
“The unfortunate decision by American Airlines to terminate a commercial relationship that benefited both carriers has left Etihad with no choice but to suspend flights between our Abu Dhabi home and Dallas/Fort Worth,” Etihad CEO Peter Baumgartner said in a statement. Dallas/Fort Worth is American’s home hub.
“We are open to American Airlines reversing its decision to cancel our codeshare agreement so that Etihad Airways can continue the route and together protect and support American national interests and global connectivity while driving commercial value for both airlines.”
The efforts of the US majors to review the air access agreements between the US on the one hand and the UAE and Qatar on the other largely failed to gain traction with the Obama administration, but have been ramped up again this year, apparently in the belief that President Trump will be more receptive to their claims of unfair competition.
In a statement Nov. 2, Etihad said it had invested heavily in the DFW route since its launch in December 2014. The service commenced on a 3X-weekly basis and was upgraded to daily in Feb. 2017. Etihad added that half of its DFW customers connected on US codeshare flights operated by American Airlines.
“The cancellation of the Dallas route is one of several adjustments that we are making to our US network in 2018 in order to improve system profitability. Further changes are possible as we monitor the full impact of the American Airlines codeshare cancellation on summer 2018 bookings,” said Baumgartner.
In October, Baumgartner told ATW this was a “sad situation” that “destroys mutual value.”
“The Open Skies debate and the impact we see at Etihad redefines our footprint in the country. That partnership has brought tremendous incremental value to American and to us,” he said.
Etihad operates 42 nonstop flights a week to five US gateways—Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York and Washington. Additionally, Etihad Cargo operates 2X-weekly Boeing 777 freighter services to and from Columbus, Ohio; and Tucson, Arizona.
(Alan Dron - ATWOnline News)