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I recently wrote a post posing a simple question – is First Class worth it? One example I provided took advantage of American Airlines AAdvantage miles to travel in First Class between the Middle East / Indian Subcontinent and Europe for 62,500 miles each way. Although you might possibly find a First Class seat on Qatar Airways and you can relatively easily find a seat on British Airways (but wouldn’t want to pay those fuel surcharges!), you would really be looking to fly with Etihad Airways.
The First Class apartment on an Airbus A380 is one of those experiences that most of us can only manage thanks to miles and points.
But might it not be around much longer? Bloomberg is reporting that Emirates and Etihad are in talks to merge. Of course, there is no guarantee that these talks will be successful. Some of the major obstacles are:
- Jealous sibling rivalry between the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai
- Route duplication – short of completely shutting down Etihad, how do you offer an anywhere-to-anywhere one-stop connection if some flights land in Abu Dhabi and others in Dubai
- Antitrust considerations. Governments in Europe and North America (or at least their national airlines’ lobbyists) would love to find an excuse to extract painful concessions from Emirates / Etihad
Yet where there’s smoke, there is often fire. Etihad has been losing substantial amounts of money and not just due to foolish investments in the likes of Air Berlin or Alitalia. And very few non-Emiratis will understand why there needs to be two major international hub airports just 130+ kilometres apart. I’ve been driven along that highway many times myself…
But should the merger take place, it is obvious that Emirates will be the dominant party and that Etihad’s partnership with American Airlines will be on the chopping block (in fact, it’s a minor miracle that it survived the addition of Qatar Airways to the Oneworld alliance to partner with AA).
Of course nothing is imminent, but if you have been contemplating accumulating enough American Airlines AAdvantage miles in order to experience Etihad’s First Class Apartment for yourself… well you’d better get to work…
What do you think? Will a merger happen? Or is it just speculation?