PAL, Etihad Airways ink landmark deal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 10 2014 10:50 AM | Updated as of Jul 11 2014 12:23 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Flag carrier Philippine Airlines and Etihad Airways have signed a strategic partnership agreement.

The agreement covers codeshare flights, loyalty programs, airport lounges, joint sales and marketing programs, a Philippines domestic air pass, cargo, and the coordination of airport operations to provide their passengers with a better experience at their hubs in Abu Dhabi and Manila.

The comprehensive new commercial agreement comes after the two airlines signed a memorandum of understanding last April.

"This new agreement is one of the ways by which PAL hopes to further build its global network. By harmonizing our products, we get to offer our passengers much wider and better travel options all over the world while boosting economic activity for both our countries through trade and tourism," PAL president and CEO Ramon S. Ang said.

For his part, Etihad Airways president and CEO said the new partnership builds on the success of its original codeshare agreement.

"What is particularly significant about the new commercial arrangements is that our millions of customers are the winners. From a greater choice of passenger and freight codeshare destinations, to reciprocal loyalty program benefits, and more efficient terminal operations – this is a truly customer-centric proposition," Hogan said.m

The airline partners will initially put their "PR" (PAL) and "EY" (Etihad) codes on each other’s Manila-Abu Dhabi flights to operate a combined total of 19 weekly flights between the two cities.

Etihad will also place its "EY" code on Philippine Airlines flights from Manila to 20 destinations throughout the Philippines in the first phase. This will increase to 28 within the year.

Also, members of PAL and Etihad's frequent flyer programs will be able to enjoy reciprocal loyalty program benefits such as miles earn and redemption and lounge access.

From September to October, double miles will be awarded to Etihad Guest members travelling on any PAL flight, and to PAL Mabuhay Miles members travelling on Etihad Airways flights.

In cargo, Etihad and PAL have signed a letter of intent for an extensive capacity agreement based on the bellyhold of all passenger services between Abu Dhabi and Manila, as well as connecting airfreight into Africa, Australia, the Middle East and South East Asia.

Etihad and PAL are also developing a joint air pass scheme which will allow overseas visitors to purchase an international flight to Manila and up to three additional sectors on Philippine Airlines’ domestic network. This air pass is expected to go on sale by September 1, 2014.

Etihad operates two flights daily between Abu Dhabi and Manila, while PAL has five weekly flights.

On Wednesday, Ang said a foreign group is close to buying a stake in the airline but denied it was Etihad.

"Yes, we're in talks with a foreign potential investor. Not Etihad," he said in a text message.

Ang said it was also said it was not yet clear whether the investor would buy out Lucio Tan's stake or join Tan and San Miguel as a third major owner.

Tan, who sold 50 percent to San Miguel two years ago, has said he's open to selling out after a troubled two-decade run.

Observers had speculated the investor is Etihad because the Middle Eastern airline is on a buying spree, purchasing stakes in 8 other airlines and signed an agreement with PAL. - With ANC