Cathay Pacific to play stronger hand as Air NZ deals it London
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.