United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier Etihad Airways has further deepened its already extensive operational and marketing partnership with European carrier’s Air France and KLM but introducing a new cargo dimension to the arrangement, having previously mainly focused on the passenger market. Alongside a significant codeshare arrangement and a lease agreement and the wet leasing of an Air France A340-300 to operate one of the UAE carrier’s two daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Paris CDG, Etihad has now agreed to lease a Boeing 747-400ERF from KLM’s Martinair Cargo operation.
The aircraft, with a payload capacity of 124 tonnes, will be used by Etihad Cargo to link the two cargo hubs of Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam, and to increase capacity to Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Dhaka. The Boeing 747-400ERF delivery and commencement of operations are scheduled for late March, taking Etihad Cargo’s freighter fleet to seven aircraft: it already operates two Boeing B777F, one Boeing 747-400F, two Airbus A330-200F and one Airbus A300-600F. Etihad Cargo has an additional three freighters scheduled for delivery in 2013 and 2014: one Boeing B777F and two Airbus A330-200Fs.
“Extending our cooperation agreement with Air France-KLM to cargo operations is an extraordinary opportunity and we look forward to leveraging our combined expertise and freighter fleets to grow cargo operations over our respective hubs,” said Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer, Etihad Airways.
“This agreement forms an excellent basis for a fruitful and far-reaching partnership between Air France-KLM and Etihad Airways into cargo. More initiatives are to be developed to enhance cargo cooperation aiming to offer our customers a wide-ranging and high quality service,” added Camiel Eurlings, Managing Director, KLM.