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Etihad Airways codeshare with Air Serbia blocked by US officials

The planned sale of plane tickets by Etihad Airways in association with its equity partner Air Serbia for travel to the United States has fallen through as the U.S. authorities have rejected Etihad Airways’ demand for a codeshare pact with Air Serbia on flights to the U.S. The demand was disapproved after various U.S. airlines intensely lobbied for this.

Air Serbia, formerly known as JAT Airways, is now equity partner of Etihad Airways. UAE’s national carrier Etihad Airways currently owns a 49 percent stake in Air Serbia. Media reports said that Air Serbia had petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation in September 2013 seeking the rights to serve U.S. destinations through codeshare partners. If the U.S. officials had approved Air Serbia’s request, the airline would have succeeded in placing its code on flights to Washington Dulles, Chicago and New York JFK via Belgrade.

The codeshare proposal had faced staunch opposition by ‘Airlines For America’, a US industry lobbying group. The members of ‘Airlines For America’ comprising American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Continental voiced their protests saying that the routings were not feasible for the customers and also pointed out that a bilateral deal with Serbia was lacking as well. They further argued the flight duration from Belgrade to New York via Abu Dhabi would be an additional 4,000 km. They also feared that a stiff fare competition would be unleashed and it was highly likely that Etihad Airways and Air Serbia would resort to lower airline tickets prices in order to attract more customers.

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