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Emirates and Etihad embrace on one-ticket deal

  • Interline agreement aimed at passengers from Europe and China
  • The two airlines previously collaborated on aviation security
  • They also agreed to work together on tourism to Abu Dhabi

Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways, the UAE’s two flagship carriers, have joined forces to allow customers to purchase a single ticket to fly to either Dubai or Abu Dhabi, and return via the other airport. 

There will be no extra cost for the service which will commence this summer. 

The so-called interline agreement is designed to boost tourism to the UAE, focusing first on inbound traffic from locations in Europe and China.

“We believe this new agreement provides a strong foundation to develop further opportunities between both airlines,” Emirates president Tim Clark said on Thursday at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM). 

Interlining, also known as interline ticketing and interline booking, is a voluntary commercial agreement between individual airlines to handle passengers traveling on itineraries which require multiple flights on multiple airlines.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad was founded in 2003 and is often regarded as the weaker of the two airlines. It has focused on forging alliances closer to home in recent years, after its profits were hit by unprofitable acquisitions of equity stakes in foreign airlines. 

Italy’s Alitalia – in which Etihad had a 49 percent stake – went into administration in April 2017. Similarly, Etihad invested in Air Berlin but the German airline went bust in August 2017. 

In October 2018, Etihad announced a deal to expand an existing codeshare agreement with state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), as well as a new codeshare partnership with Bahrain’s Gulf Air in 2021. 

Emirates and Etihad first collaborated in 2018 when they signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen aviation security within and outside the Emirates.

Emirates signed another agreement last year with Abu Dhabi’s Department and Culture and Tourism to boost UAE tourism.

Speaking at ATM on Tuesday, Clark said that Emirates’ tie-ups with United of the US and Air Canada could lead to more code-share partnerships.

He said the agreements had “opened the eyes of a number of players who thought perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to look at us as a dastardly competitor.”