We’ve known for a while that Emirates, the world’s largest long-haul airline was looking at a tie-up with Dubai’s government owned low-cost carrier, flydubai. Speculation had been mounting following comments made earlier this year by the Emirates Group chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum who was looking at “greater synergies between the two airlines.”
This is what he had to say about the matter: “If we look at it from the [point of view of the] Dubai ownership of the two airlines, I have Emirates and I have flydubai. And between the two I have B777s, B737s and A380s. So I think we can do something there.”
Well, now Emirates and flydubai have released a joint press statement, confirming their plans for the future. The two airline’s are calling the agreement an “extensive partnership” that will see them “join forces to offer customers unmatched travel options.”
In an internal memo to Emirates staffers, the airline was quick to point out that this news is “not a merger but a very close cooperation.” It goes on to say: “Emirates and flydubai will remain separate business entities”.
According to Emirates, the plan is to make use of each others route networks to “scale up operations and accelerate growth”. This makes a lot of sense. flydubai operates an all narrowbody fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft to primarily secondary airports in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa.
Meanwhile, Emirates only has a widebody fleet of Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – it’s impressive but hardly very flexible with faltering passenger load factors. The two Dubai-based airlines are hoping to open up “seamless connectivity” to one another’s route networks. Interestingly, flydubai’s network has been described as “robust” – whatever that means.
So how are they going to do this? Well, it looks like plans to move flydubai out of Dubai International Airport (DXB) to the new out of town airport at Dubai World Central may be coming to a crashing halt. Both Emirates and flydubai will be developing their hub at DXB – Operations and systems will all be aligned to bring the two airlines together.
Although Emirates and flydubai already have extensive interline agreements in place, this new announcement goes much further. They’ll be aligning schedules, systems and even networks to complement one another.
Although the two airlines will maintain their separate brands, this will see Emirates and flydubai working very closely together. Remember, they are both fully owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai, so although they have different management structures, this deal wasn’t going to be hard to pull off.
Speaking about the agreement, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum commented: “This is an exciting and significant development for Emirates, flydubai, and Dubai aviation.”
“Both airlines have grown independently and successfully over the years, and this new partnership will unlock the immense value that the complementary models of both companies can bring to consumers, each airline, and to Dubai.”
By the end of 2017, the two airlines will be codesharing on many routes – network planners are now working on adjustments to bring city-pair connections together from the two airlines. By 2022, the combined network of both airline’s will reach 240 destinations.