This doesn’t have huge practical implications, though symbolically this is a big move. For years, Etihad was focused on “Etihad Airways Partners,” which was the group of airline partners they invested in, including airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, and Alitalia. How has that worked out for them?
- airberlin is out of business
- Alitalia is on the verge of going out of business
- Air Seychelles is restructuring, and canceling their longhaul routes
- Air Serbia is expected to announce a restructuring soon
There are many aspects to this strategy, and part of it has been that these airlines fly to Abu Dhabi, allowing them to connect their own networks to Etihad’s global route network. So they’ve flown to Etihad’s hub, and Etihad has flown to their hubs.
But with the Etihad Airways Partners concept falling apart, so has one aspect of the connectivity of these airlines to Etihd. Obviously airberlin no longer flies to Abu Dhabi (or anywhere), Air Serbia no longer flies between Belgrade and Abu Dhabi, and now another airline is following that trend.
Per @airlineroute, as of March 25, 2018, Alitalia will be discontinuing their daily flight between Rome and Abu Dhabi, which presently operates with the following schedule:
AZ852 Rome to Abu Dhabi departing 10:40AM arriving 7:30PM
AZ853 Abu Dhabi to Rome departing 2:25AM arriving 6:15AM
The reason I say that this is more symbolic than anything is because Etihad is taking over the route from Alitalia, and Alitalia will continue to codeshare on the flight. So there’s not really a capacity decrease here, but rather just a shifting of capacity.
On top of the daily flight to Abu Dhabi being discontinued, Alitalia is also discontinuing their once weekly flight between Milan and Abu Dhabi. This complements Etihad’s daily flight in the market, so that’s not a huge deal.
Alitalia still sort of seems to be in a state of limbo, as the airline doesn’t have a new labor contract and is still on its last lifeline (or so it seems)…