The head of Emirates reportedly said on Wednesday that he sees "value" in working more closely with UAE-based rival Etihad Airways.
President Tim Clark was quoted as saying by Reuters that he is open to cooperation with Etihad on areas including procurement, but he added that a full merger was "unlikely".
“I think there is value to be had working more closely with them,” Clark told Reuters.
“There are many areas that the airlines could work together on like procurement. But we have to go the first jump first to understand what it is we could do and I‘m simply the manager of one of the businesses,” he said.
“It is my superiors who have to make that call, not me."
An Etihad spokesperson said: “As we continue to transform our business, we constantly seek opportunities for innovative collaboration with other organisations, where it makes business and commercial sense. In the global airline industry, it is common for airlines to leverage in-country expertise and economies of scale.”
In July, Emirates and its low-cost sister airline Flydubai announced a tie-up in which they will codeshare on 29 routes.
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