On Monday, Etihad Airways opened reservations for a new nonstop route from its Abu Dhabi hub to Los Angeles, CA slated to commence on June 1, 2014. EY will be deploying a 777-200LR aircraft with the following times in each direction:
- EY171 AUH0845 – 1415LAX 77L D
- EY170 LAX1615 – 1935+1AUH 77L D
The route will add a boost to the growing level of Middle Eastern carrier presence at LAX: Saudia Airlines will be opening up its LA station within the next year, and Emirates has plans to up-gauge its daily 77W flight to Dubai to an Airbus A380 this winter. Turkish Airlines also offers nonstop service from LAX to Istanbul on a high-density seating 77W.
Etihad presently serves New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare and Washington Dulles from its AUH hub, as well as Toronto and Sao Paulo in the Western Hemisphere. The LAX route will become Etihad’s longest flight in its global network.
One of the more refined data points of the new EY service to LAX is the continuation of the American Airlines – Etihad codeshare, which will be expanded to cover the route. Many people have speculated that given Qatar Airways’ impending entry into OneWorld, American would drop its codeshare agreement with Qatar rival Etihad. However, it appears that no red flags have been issued from either Etihad nor existing OneWorld carriers preventing AA from maintaining this relationship.
This further underscores the more relaxed nature OneWorld generally holds towards allowing individual member carriers to pursue extramarital relationships outside of the alliance. Qantas tied up with Emirates earlier this year on the Kangaroo Routes (since renamed ‘Falcon Routes’) between Australia and Europe, and Cathay Pacific has formed a joint venture agreement with Air New Zealand in the Asia – Pacific region. American was even in partnership talks with Emirates at one point, but those discussions have seemingly cooled over the past 12 months.
This contrasts widely with OneWorld competitors such as the Star Alliance group, who is much more tightly integrated and is known for holding distant, if not outright toxic, views towards the major Middle Eastern carriers. United was quick to drop its codeshare with Qatar Airways merely weeks before Qatar officially unveiled its plans to join OneWorld.
Reciprocally, Etihad is probably the one global network carrier that has reaped the most benefits from “airline promiscuity,” coloquially speaking, having successfully lured many carriers away from traditional alliance “groupthink” and forming a multitude of joint venture agreements and/or purchasing equity stakes in airlines ranging from airberlin to Jet Airways to Virgin Australia.
American will certainly benefit from the additional feed into its LAX cornerstone hub via Etihad. However, as the route develops, it will be interesting to see how this plays into load factors. Etihad has served two other AA “cornerstone hubs” New York JFK since 2006 and Chicago O’Hare since 2008. While the LAX cornerstone hub is smaller than these other two markets, its West Coast network is fairly sizeable and should be an attractive option to connect feed in markets that are not reached by Chicago nor New York.
In summary, this will be the Americas tally of destinations served by the “big three” Middle Eastern carriers, plus Turkish Airlines, in 2014:
|New York JFK||X||X||X||X|
|Rio de Janeiro||X||X|