Emirates, United Airlines bury the hatchet, launch new pact

Partnership debuts when "travel demand is rebounding with a vengeance" - Tim Clark

Emirates and United Airlines have forged a new strategic partnership that will provide new benefits for customers travelling between the United Arab Emirates and the United States. The arrangement will also see United introduce nonstop flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to Dubai from March 2023.

This latest agreement comes several years after the airlines were at loggerheads over air capacity into the USA. (Details on that at the bottom).

From November, Emirates customers flying into Chicago, San Francisco, and Houston – three of the biggest business hubs in the US – will be able to easily connect onto United flights to and from nearly 200 cities across the Americas on a single ticket.

At the eight other US airports served by Emirates – Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, Orlando, Seattle and Washington DC – both airlines will have an interline arrangement in place.

United and Emirates crew at Dubai International Airport

Speaking at a ceremonial event at Washington Dulles International Airport attended by the bosses of both airlines, Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said:

“Two of the biggest, and best-known airlines in the world are joining hands to fly people better to more places, at a time when travel demand is rebounding with a vengeance.”

“It’s a significant partnership that will unlock tremendous consumer benefit and bring the United Arab Emirates and the United States even closer. We welcome United’s return to Dubai next year, where our hub Dubai essentially becomes a gateway for United to reach Asia, Africa and the Middle East via the combined network of Emirates and flydubai. We look forward to developing our partnership with United for the long term,” Clark said.

Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines said: “This agreement unites two iconic, flag carrier airlines who share a common commitment to creating the best customer experience in the skies. United’s new flight to Dubai and our complementary networks will make global travel easier for millions of our customers, helping boost local economies and strengthen cultural ties.

“This is a proud moment for both United and Emirates employees, and I look forward to our journey together.”

The alliance will also give the loyalty program members of both airlines more opportunities for more rewards: Emirates Skywards members can soon earn miles when they travel on United-operated flights, and United Mileage Plus members flying on United’s New York/Newark to Dubai flight will be able to earn and redeem miles when connecting beyond on Emirates and flydubai.

Eligible customers travelling on codeshare flights will also soon enjoy access to Emirates and United lounges. Further details on frequent flyer awards and lounge sharing benefits will be unveiled in the coming weeks. Tickets for United’s new Dubai flight are now on sale.

A bit of bitter history

Interestingly, and it should be noted, this new venture comes in stark contrast to eight years ago when both airlines – each part of a regional ‘Big 3’ – were dueling over flights between the Gulf states and the United States.

Back in 2015, United alongside Delta Air Lines and American Airlines under the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, protested to the US Government over the escalating footprint in the US of Emirates, as well as Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. They wanted to freeze the growth of the Persian airlines into the United States airspace. The US Big 3 alluded the Middle Eastern Big 3 were engaged in an orchestrated campaign and were benefiting unfairly from some US$40 billion in kickbacks from Gulf governments over the past decade.

The case between the US and UAE was ultimately settled three years later, five-months after the US settled a similar dispute with Qatar.

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