Computer-generated drawing of a 787 in Etihad Airways livery. Courtesy, Boeing

Etihad Airways (EY) and Air Berlin (AB) have announced plans to integrate their Boeing 787 programs, saving millions of dollars for both carriers. The deal affects 56 aircraft, according to the company, which said the joint order is the biggest worldwide for the 787.

A combined EY/AB team will oversee the integration program, in which the two airlines will share infrastructure, pool maintenance and develop joint training programs. They will also streamline purchasing activity for engines, rotables, avionics and inflight entertainment systems. The two airlines will also work jointly on product development for the new aircraft type.

“This program is the first of a range of initiatives that will bring significant cost synergies and savings for both airlines,” EY president and CEO James Hogan said. He said it is an ideal solution for reducing the costs associated with the introduction of a new aircraft type, and an excellent example of the value of our partnership ... to achieve economies of scale and avoid duplication in areas like design and certification.”

Hogan said he expects the synergies through this integration will result in significant efficiency benefits for both airlines. “We will also be able to deliver a level of commonality across our 787 fleets in relation to onboard cabin specifications, which will provide passengers with a consistent product experience when they travel across the airlines’ extensive networks.”

EY has a total of 41 787-9s on order, with 25 options and purchasing rights. AB has 15 787s on order with options and purchase rights on a further 15 aircraft. Deliveries will begin in 2015.