A major collaboration has been forged between Lufthansa and Etihad Airways.

The deal sees the two carriers finalise a codeshare partnership due to start in January.

The German airline group also confirmed that it will lease 38 aircraft from Air Berlin – in which the Abu Dhabi-based carrier holds a 29% stake – as part of a restructuring.

Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings and wholly-owned Austrian Airlines are to wet lease the aircraft from Air Berlin.

Thirty three of the aircraft are to be operated for the Eurowings Group with five to be flown for Austrian Airlines.

The six-year agreement becomes effective from February with the leases agreed at “competitive rates”.

Under the codeshare agreement, the German airline will place its ‘LH’ code on Etihad Airways’ twice daily non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi and Frankfurt and its twice daily non-stop services between Abu Dhabi and Munich.

The UAE national airline will, in turn, put its ‘EY’ code on Lufthansa’s long-haul services between Frankfurt and Rio de Janeiro as well as Bogota in Colombia.

Etihad president and chief executive James Hogan said: “We have long seen Germany as a key strategic market for Etihad Aviation Group and this new relationship with Lufthansa marks the next step in our commitment to the leading European aviation group.

“Lufthansa is highly respected globally and I’m very pleased that we will work together in the future for the benefit of our customers.

“Additionally, we are, in our role as a minority shareholder in Air Berlin, fully supportive of the separate agreement reached today with the Lufthansa Group to wet lease 38 Air Berlin aircraft.

“It is very clear to us at Etihad Airways that Lufthansa is a like-minded, forward thinking organisation with which we can do strong, meaningful and mutually beneficial business.” 

Lufthansa group chief executive Carsten Spohr said: “We are looking forward to partnering with the Etihad Aviation Group.

“The wet-lease contract with Air Berlin fosters the growth of our Eurowings Group.

“The codeshare agreement of Lufthansa and Etihad will offer our customers more benefits and complement both airlines’ networks. We will consider extending our co-operation in other areas.”