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PAL open to expanded partnership with Etihad

MANILA, Philippines - National flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) is open to taking in Abu Dhabi- based Etihad Airways as equity partner by further expanding their strategic alliance.

PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang made the statement after signing a cooperation agreement with Etihad Airways president and chief executive officer James Hogan Wednesday evening.

“Right now we are just concentrating on business partnership. On other things who knows in the future,” Ang told reporters.

The strategic partnership agreement between PAL and Etihad Airways 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 a better guest experience at their Abu Dhabi and Manila hubs.

“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,” Ang said.

PAL is looking at taking in a new foreign strategic partner within the year. The Tan Group owns 51 percent of PAL while SMC infused $500 million to acquire a 49 percent interest in the national flag carrier in April 2012.

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Hogan said the Philippines has been an important market for Etihad Airways since signing its first code-share partnership with PAL way back in October 2007. It has a load factor of about 90 percent in the Philippines.

“The Philippines is a very important market for Etihad Airways. It always has been from the start,” Hogan said.

However, Hogan clarified that the broad scope of the commercial agreement reflected the strength of the relationship between the airlines and the close ties between the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines.

He pointed out that the agreement does not cover equity partnership.

Etihad Airways is finalizing the acquisition of a stake in Alitalia. It holds equity investments in Airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia, Aer Lingus, Air Serbia and Jet Airways.

Under the partnership, PAL and Etihad Airways would have a total combined 19 weekly flights between Manila and Abu Dhabi. Etihad Airways would have access to 20 PAL destinations from Manila that would be increased within the year.

Etihad Airways operates two flights daily between Abu Dhabi and Manila using a Boeing 777-300 aircraft while PAL uses Airbus A330-300 aircraft for its five weekly flights between Manila and Abu Dhabi.

Likewise, Members of Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Miles Frequent Flyer Program and Etihad Airways Etihad Guest will enjoy reciprocal loyalty program benefits including miles earn and redemption, priority check-in and boarding, baggage handling and lounge access across both networks.


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