Emirates and Etihad Airways have signed a new interline agreement that aims to boost the UAE’s tourism industry by making it easier for visitors to fly into Dubai or Abu Dhabi and then fly out of the other city without needing to book separate tickets.
The deal was announced on day four of the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai – a major regional tourism conference which Etihad Airways has already used to unveil a new Business Class suite for its next batch of Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Through this latest business agreement, passengers will be able to purchase a single ticket that allows them to fly into Dubai with Emirates and then fly out of Abu Dhabi with Etihad, and vice versa.
An interline agreement is a common business arrangement in the airline industry in which two or more airlines carry passengers and their baggage on a single ticket. An interline agreement is different to a codeshare flight in that Emirates and Eithad aren’t operating flights on behalf of the other airline.
In a joint statement, the two airlines said the interline agreement would initially be used to attract tourists to the United Arab Emirates from China and select markets in Europe.
The deal focuses on an ‘open jaw’ arrangement that allows tourists to see as much of the UAE as possible without needing to get back to the same city they arrived in for their flight home.
Sir Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, commented on the deal: “We are pleased to be working again with Etihad Airways – this time to allow each carrier to offer a new range of seamless travel options in and out of the UAE”.
The two rival airlines last worked together in 2018 when Etihad reached a deal with the Emirates Group to provide security services both domestically and internationally.
That deal fuelled speculation that the two airlines might one day merge, although such rumours have never amounted to anything more than rumours.
“We believe this new agreement provides a strong foundation to develop further opportunities between both airlines and is an example of our commitment to the UAE’s vision for continued economic diversification,” Sir Tim continued.
Indeed, this deal appears to be more about a shared vision between Dubai and Abu Dhabi to bolster the UAE’s tourism industry which the government describes as a “key pillar of the UAE economy”.
By 2027, the tourism industry is expected to account for around 5.4 per cent of the UAE’s total GDP and support more than one million jobs.
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.