Air France-KLM to codeshare with Etihad as Qantas deal ends

Air France-KLM and Etihad Airways announced Monday a codesharing agreement in the first phase of what could become a broader strategic partnership, a statement said.

Air France, which has hit financial headwinds, also unveiled a similar deal with Air Berlin, the sixth biggest European carrier.

The agreements, which allow each airline to offer service provided by its partners, will cover destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, the statement said.

It represents "the first phase of a much larger strategic partnership," the airlines added.

The deal "reflects the core elements of Etihad Airways' 10-year master plan, driven by organic network growth, combined with the forging of strategic codeshare partnerships and minority equity investments in other airlines," Etihad chief executive James Hogan was quoted as saying.

Air France, which posted in July a second-quarter loss of 895 million euros ($A1.13 billion) owing to provisions to cover restructuring costs, previously had a code-sharing deal with the Australian carrier Qantas.

That ended however when Qantas announced in September a commercial agreement with Emirates, a Gulf rival of Etihad.

Air France has come under increasing pressure from growing Asian and Gulf airlines as well as low-cost carriers.

Earlier this year Air France unveiled a plan designed to save two billion euros and put it back in profit by 2015.