Earlier this week in a press conference at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, Etihad CEO broke the news that Indian full service carrier Jet Airways will be transferring its European scissors hub from Brussels to Amsterdam. Thanks to the recently created Jetihad partnership (Etihad owns 24% of Jet Airways), Etihad exerts significant control over Jet’s international strategy.
Jet Airways currently operates daily flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Brussels, which then continue onwards to Newark and Toronto. Etihad recently signed a cooperation agreement with KLM that covers several destinations under a joint venture agreement. While Etihad (and by extension Jetihad) have no plans to join SkyTeam, they are apparently interested in working more closely with Air France-KLM and Delta. Etihad already places its code on 12 KLM destinations out of Amsterdam and on 15th May launched daily services between Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam using Airbus A330-200 equipment.
No timeline has been set for the transfer and it remains to be seen whether the shift of Jet’s North American services to Amsterdam is an intermediate step, or the final plan for these flights. Most industry observers had predicted that Jet Airways’ long haul fleet would be re-deployed for use on westbound international services through Abu Dhabi; indeed part of the value proposition for the Jetihad deal was the ability to utilize Jet Airways’ wide-body fleet to augment Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi via a scissors hub.
Still, Amsterdam makes sense as an intermediate transfer point. Mumbai does have more O&D demand to Brussels, but KLM’s Amsterdam hub is much stronger than the comparable operation for Brussels Airlines in Brussels. So Jet Airways will get some additional feed in Amsterdam. And if they were to launch a joint venture for US-Europe-India with Air France-KLM and Delta, it could be potentially lucrative.