New world order

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share
Making friends The three big Gulf carriers are seeking alliances with other airlines, but in very different ways.

Making friends The three big Gulf carriers are seeking alliances with other airlines, but in very different ways.

Since Dubai set up Emirates Airline in 1985, the Gulf region has gone from a small regional aviation player to one of the mammoths of the industry. The three big carriers – Emirates, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – have dominated aircraft order books, airshow news headlines and helped the Middle East become one of the few regions in the world to regularly report profits amidst the doom and gloom of the global recession.

Although the big three had always prided themselves on going it alone and avoiding alliances or partnerships, there was a seismic shift last year when it was announced Emirates had struck a partnership with Aussie carrier Qantas, Etihad was to codeshare with arch rival Air France/KLM and Qatar Airways was to join the oneworld airline alliance.

At this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) this feeling of alliance building and partner proposals became even more pronounced with new suitors being sounded out and initial flirtations being made. Maybe it is the mix of airport opening delays, aircraft groundings or a basic need to balance the books that are the motivators, but the big executives seem to be increasingly in the mood to talk to those once perceived as direct rivals.

First out of the stalls is Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker who, as always, is very direct in his belief that an alliance with Dubai-based Emirates Airline would be a good thing for him and a good thing for the region.

“We are always open [to an alliance]… I think now the closeness between Emirates and Qatar Airways will really make a very strong airline,” he says. Despite the Doha-based airline announcing it is set to be fully integrated into the oneworld alliance from September, Al Baker points to Emirates’ recent alliance with Australian rival Qantas as a clear example the Dubai airline was open to integration.

“You never know: Did you ever expect only one year ago that Emirates and Qantas would get together? Things in aviation can move fast. Integration of Emirates and Qatar Airways will benefit this region and will make the two airlines even stronger than they are today.”

Al Baker first suggested such an alliance during a speech to the Arab Air Carrier Association’s AGM in Algeria in late 2012, but the idea was soon shot down by Tim Clark, president of the Dubai-based carrier.

“You put the two together and you would face the most formidable international airline group that has ever been formed,” Clark told UK-based Aviation Week. “That’s why it will never happen.”

Article continued on next page

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Crowded skies in the Middle East

Crowded skies in the Middle East

Aviation experts give their suggestions on how to solve the Middle...

Cracking the code

Cracking the code

Strategic codeshare agreements are a win-win situation for gulf...

Stronger together? Reviewing Emirates' historic partnership with Qantas

Stronger together? Reviewing Emirates' historic partnership with Qantas

One year after the “historic” Emirates-Qantas partnership deal...

Most Discussed
  • 10
    UAE teens among the highest for obesity rates

    Everyone in UAE knows that biggest is best.

    UAE may not light up the international league tables in standard of living, education standards, press... more

    Friday, 29 August 2014 4:20 PM - Proud UAEer
  • 9
    Saudi Arabia seeks talks on hiring of Sri Lankan maids

    perhaps the unemployed saudi men or the millions of women who are not allowed to work could pick up a broom and start sweeping their own houses. more

    Sunday, 31 August 2014 3:28 PM - nice
  • 9
    Smoke-free Dubai - the big debate

    Surprisingly the only studies that show a negative financial impact of the smoking ban on the hospitality industry are sponsored by tobacco companies ... more

    Wednesday, 27 August 2014 4:19 PM - Telcoguy
  • 24
    World's most pierced man refused entry to the UAE

    Tolerance has its limits everywhere including Dubai and those who considered Dubai a lawless circus were held thank you Dubai authorities... more

    Thursday, 21 August 2014 10:51 PM - Khalil
  • 23
    Baby NOT on board?

    Some of you cry babies need to get your own personal apartments on the plane ! You cry more then the babies I have seen in my travels. LOL more

    Thursday, 28 August 2014 9:10 AM - Jim
  • 21
    Israel “must be punished” over Gaza, says Dubai police chief

    This high moral ground that Mick is talking abt sound very familiar. May I remind Mick that the US & its British ally alone killed over 1 million innocent... more

    Thursday, 7 August 2014 4:12 PM - Mathew