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Etihad Airways took a big stake in Alitalia earlier this year, hoping to turn it into one of the world’s premier airline brands.
Things are moving quickly, and Etihad said it won’t renew some deep relationships with SkyTeam partner Air France come 2017 when current agreements expire.
So it wasn’t hard to speculate that Alitalia and Delta’s relationship might see some changes ahead. Which might mean an exit from SkyTeam or ending the trans Atlantic joint venture partnership with Delta.
After all, Etihad is not part of a major alliance, and Gulf carriers are in a row with Delta over what Delta thinks are unfair subsidies.
But today Delta’s President Ed Bastian said he doesn’t expect much change for Delta’s relationship with Alitalia, according to Air Transport World.
He characterized the Air France situation as an ‘intra-Europe’ issue and saw no sign of change in Delta’s trans-Atlantic partnership with Alitalia. So you can infer that SkyMiles will be valid on Alitalia flights for a while to come.
But he did say that improved partnerships in Asia could be forthcoming for Delta, perhaps including a better relationship with Korean Airlines, where cross earning and benefits for Delta SkyMiles members have deteriorated over the last few years.
Keeping the Alitalia relationship is a good thing for SkyMiles members.
There’s no more reliable or better way to get to Italy with miles than Alitalia’s flights.
And they are pretty good about releasing premium Business Class seats to and from the United States at 62,500 miles one way.
It’s one of the best Business Class products in the sky, and it may get even better as Etihad overhauls it to be a 5 star quality airline.
As a passenger, you may find Etihad may handle Alitalia like its other European interest Air Berlin, which is a full fledged OneWorld member that plays nice with American AAdvantage.
That will be good news for SkyMiles members.
They’re planning more flights to the U.S. from Alitalia’s hubs, including a flight to San Francisco, and more to New York and Chicago, which means more opportunities to use your SkyMiles for some great values.
That’s on top of existing flights to Boston, Los Angeles, and Miami.
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