Etihad has taken another step in its international alliance strategy with the signing of memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Eastern Airlines.
The MoU will encompass joint route and schedule coordination, codesharing between the UAE and China and in time on each other's networks, full frequent flyer reciprocity, reciprocal airport lounge access, joint product development, and technical and cargo cooperation – subject to regulatory approval.
Etihad chief executive officer James Hogan said the MoU with China Eastern Airlines was an important development in Etihad Airways’ China strategy. "The partnership with China Eastern Airlines will allow us to extend our reach into the dynamic Chinese travel market in a commercially viable and mutually beneficial way."
He added: "We will explore further opportunities to expand the cooperation with China Eastern Airlines and would welcome them operating to and beyond our home base in Abu Dhabi.” Etihad started flights to Shanghai at the beginning of March.
Etihad has also recently agreed various cooperation deals with airberlin, in which it has a minority stake.
• China Eastern reported a net profit of CNY4.58 billion (US$723 million) in 2011, down 7.7% from 2010, partly due to a 35.3% hike in jet fuel costs. Operating revenue climbed 11.65% to CNY82.4 billion while operating expenses increased 15.3% to CNY79.29 billion. RPKs rose 8.3% to 100.89 billion, while ASKs rose 7% to 119.45 billion. Cargo traffic dropped 1.5% to 1.443 million tonnes.