Emirates and Flydubai Combine Network Operations

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Dubai's government-controlled Emirates Airline, the worldwide carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said here on Monday it agreed with budget carrier flydubai to expand their codeshare agreement and align their frequent flyer programs.

The two Dubai state-owned airlines have announced an "extensive partnership agreement" that stops short of a merger but will allow them to issue tickets for each other, coordinate schedules and launch new routes.

Both airlines, which are owned by Investment Corporation of Dubai, will remain under separate management teams.

Emirates in particular has been hit by currency fluctuations, geopolitical uncertainty and U.S. travel restrictions leading it to post an 82 percent drop in profit in May, its first decline in five years.

The upgraded cooperation would lead to "scheduled alignment and network optimization" to serve their passengers, Emirates said in e-mailed statement.

"This partnership isn't about savings, it's about extracting commercial value by leveraging the strengths of both companies to accelerate growth", representatives from the airlines said. The current combined network comprises 216 destination points.

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The partnership will be rolled out over the coming months, with the first code-sharing arrangements starting in the last quarter of 2017, the airlines said.

Meanwhile flydubai, which operates 58 Boeing 737 aircraft to 95 destinations, has focused mainly on regional destinations throughout the Middle East, India, Southern Europe and Eastern Africa.

The two airlines will also further develop their hub at Dubai Int'l, aligning their systems and operations to ensure a seamless travel experience through the facility.

Calling the partnership as a "synergistic move" that will enable flydubai and Emirates to complement each other, Sharat Dhall, Chief Operating Officer, Yatra.com, felt that this should help expand their overall reach in India with each airline focussing on its core objectives.

Teams from Emirates and flydubai are now working on several initiatives spanning commercial, network planning, airport operations, customer journey, and frequent flyer programmes alignment.

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