Last month, I caught up with Etihad CEO James Hogan during his visit to Los Angeles to announce new service to Abu Dhabi. Hogan previously held senior roles at a handful of airlines, including British Midland and Gulf Air, and he appears to know his stuff.
Someone asked Hogan his view of airline alliances, the marketing tie-ups most of the world’s biggest airlines — but not Etihad — belong to. In response, he talked about his experience with alliances. I think he was referring to his time at British Midland, which was one of the minor players in Star Alliance before it was bought by British Airways. Lufthansa and United are the major airlines in Star Alliance, and they generally call the shots.
“It’s like being in a Catholic Irish family with 10 kids,” Hogan said. “If you are at the end of the table, it’s like, ‘Can you pass the beans.'”
Translation: Being in an alliance is not so much fun if you’re not top dog.