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Nov 6, 2012

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Air NZ’s decision to drop Auckland-London flights via Hong Kong in favour of connections to a Cathay Pacific service from 4 March strengthens the Hong Kong carrier and its hub.

It might also confuse those who have been suckered into thinking global alliances really mean all that much anymore.

The Air NZ move is yet another demonstration that when airlines make route specific business agreements, alliances are meaningless.

In that sense, what the New Zealand carrier is doing is exactly what Qantas did with British Airways when it forged the joint services agreement that will, pending approvals, be replaced with the Emirates partnership from 1 April, or whenever, of if, those approvals are granted. The Qantas/BA JSA was always openly acknowledged as being bigger than oneworld, in which both carriers were foundation members, and its been flicked for the now more relevant opportunities of being a cipher for Emirates.

However Air NZ isn’t quitting London flying its own airliners, and will continue its services via Los Angeles, and says it will redeploy the capacity it was flying at a loss between Hong Kong and London to its Auckland services to both San Francisco and LAX.

It can be argued that for consumers, thinking Star Alliance, or oneworld, or SkyTeam, which are the three major global marketing alliances, is a waste of time. What counts are the route specific partnerships, in which airlines often cross their alliance boundaries to create joint timetables on, for example, the routes between Australia and Europe, or between Australia and Asia, especially where the latter require connections at the major hubs of Singapore or Hong Kong.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands has reported and analysed the mechanical mobility of humanity since late 1960 - the end of the age of great scheduled ocean liners and coastal steamers and the start of the jet age. He’s worked in newspapers, radio and TV in a wide range of roles as a journalist at home and abroad for 56 years, the last 18 freelance.

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3 thoughts on “Cathay Pacific to play stronger hand as Air NZ deals it London

  1. patrick kilby

    I think the punters rather than the airlines like alliances becuase they get the status credits and points for almost anywhete they wish to fly and sometimes with quite a few alternaives e.g One World has four alternatives Syd to London/Europe with a much the same flying time (CX,QF,BA,MH,JAL); and they can all go onto the QF FF card. I suspect over time the value of the benefits from the alernatives will fall otherwise the 9m QF FFliers can all fly elsewhere except for the four mandatory sectors per year. In fact QF started this the other day when a particular benefit could only be accrued on QF numbered flights.

  2. kiwikurt

    Airlines may be starting to work against their own marketing alliances but as Patrick said for customers the global alliances still mean something to us.

    Airlines I think are walking a fine line because there are a lot of us who choose the airlines we fly with partly because of the alliance. It has worked very well for me in NZ, Asia and Europe. I would not be KrisFlyer Gold if it wasn’t for the global benefits that it provides that help make travelling a little less stressful for me.

    All that said I concede I could part of a decreasing sector of customers. But I still think airlines need to be careful.

  3. pieter

    Pity for the statistics, since this was the only possibility to go truly round the world with one single airline.

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