Emirates and United Airlines are set to put their differences behind them and cosy up with a broad partnership and codeshare deal which is expected to be officially announced next month.
On Tuesday, the two airlines teased a major announcement slated to take place on September 14 which will be attended by United’s chief executive Scott Kirby and Emirates’ president Sir Tim Clark.
Once fierce foes, the carriers have declined to provide any further details, but industry sources told the Air Current that Emirates and United were close to signing a historic codeshare agreement – in which sees an airline assigns their two letter designator and flight number to a service operated by another airline.
Codesharing is one of the most common business agreements between airlines, and it allows an airline to market and sell flights that they don’t actually operate. This, in turn, allows airlines to offer a broader selection of trips within a combined ticket.
Industry analysts also expect Emirates and United to announce a tie-up between their respective frequent flyer programmes. The deal may also see United make a return to Emirates’ hub in Dubai for the first time since 2016 when the airline discontinued its non-stop flight from Washington DC citing “overcapacity” caused by Emirates’ expansion into Dubai.
The decision formed part of a broader campaign that United launched against Emirates and other Persian Gulf airlines including Etihad and Qatar Airways.
United joined forces with American Airlines and Delta in a concerted lobbying campaign that accused the likes of Emirates of receiving billions of dollars in government support that was distorting the international aviation market.
The campaign, however, made little traction and in 2019, former President Trump said he had no plans to change an Open Skies agreement between the United States and the United Arab Emirates – a key demand of the United funded lobbying campaign.
Then, in early 2020, American Airlines announced it had reinstated a codeshare agreement with Emirates’ Middle East rival Qatar Airways as part of a broader deal to build a “strategic partnership”.
Although the pandemic delayed some aspects of the deal, American has since launched flights to Doha and has boasted of its seamless connections to the Gulf region.
The expected deal between United and Emirates will give the two carriers the opportunity to go head-to-head with American and Qatar Airways.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.