How does the “Interline” agreement between Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways translate?

How does the “Interline” agreement between Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways translate?
How does the “Interline” agreement between Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways translate?

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — In one country, two major airlines operate world-class fleets from different major hubs, close together.

Theoretically, the UAE’s ownership of two global carriers, with largely overlapping international air networks, might seem excessive.. Isn’t one enough?

Thus, the announcement by Emirates Airlines and Etihad of a new deal to work closely will inevitably revive rumors of a possible merger between the two. This is something that has been debated for a long time on an academic level in aviation circles, particularly during tough economic times.

And earlier this month, the two airlines agreed on what is called an “interline” agreement.

The move raises questions about what that means for passengers, and whether a new regional airline is finally on the way.

Founded in 1985 and headquartered in Dubai, Emirates Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world in terms of multiple measures.

Etihad Airways was established in 2003 and is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai International Airport is less than 150 km away from Abu Dhabi International Airport. The distance between them takes about 75 to 90 minutes, depending on traffic.

The UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, is known for being smaller and quieter than its attractive and vibrant northeastern neighbor, Dubai.

However, both are considered regional economic centers.

Addison Schonland, a partner at consulting firm AirInsight Group, rules out the possibility of a merger between the two companies, describing the Interline agreement as “primarily a regional tourism marketing effort”.

He said, “When these two companies announced two memorandums of understanding on aviation security in 2018, and another memorandum in 2022, on promoting the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, these two agreements were not completed.”

Every time Emirates and Etihad announce joint initiatives, they are asked if this will happen. And each time the answer is “no”.

A picture reflecting Etihad Airways’ twentieth anniversary celebrations.Credit: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg/Getty Images

What does the “interline” agreement mean?

It is one of the first steps two airlines take when they want to cooperate.

Normally, from the point of view of the passengers, if you are traveling from Airline A to Airline B, this means that you can check-in your bags with Airline A and not have to collect them and then check-in again with Airline B.

It seems that the concept of the agreement between Emirates Airlines and Etihad is a little broader than that. Both companies are looking to cover what are known as open-jaw tickets, meaning travel to and from one city.

This is what travelers to Europe or Japan often do. And that could be really helpful.

“The two carriers will focus, in the early stages of the partnership, on attracting visitors to the United Arab Emirates by developing interline traffic from European points and China,” the two companies said in a joint statement.

The “open jaw” arrangement will allow visitors to explore the various regions of the United Arab Emirates, saving time by not having to return through the arrival airport.

The statement indicated that customers who come to the country have the option of “multi-city trips”, with the ability to travel from a city on the two carriers’ networks, and return easily to another point served by Emirates Airlines or Etihad Airways.

Should I travel with Emirates or Etihad Airways?

Both airlines are reputable airlines, and their fleets have some of the best passenger experiences one can have.

All in all, for most passengers, you won’t find much difference in economy class between the two airlines. However, if you can choose between flights, choose planes with wider economy class seats, such as the Airbus A380 and A350, rather than the narrower seats of the Boeing 777 and 787.

There’s usually no difference in fares, but the difference between 18.5 inches and 17 inches in seat width can be significant, and the extra shoulder and aisle room is a plus.

Keep in mind if you want to travel in premium economy, Emirates is the only one of the two airlines that offers this, and only on some routes.

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