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Emirates and Etihad Set to Transform UAE Tourism with Enhanced Interline Agreement

Passengers of either airline will be able to fly into Dubai and out of Abu Dhabi, or vice versa, on a single ticket

by Fergus Cole

May 5, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Emirates

UAE-based carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways have announced an expansion of their interline agreement, giving passengers of both airlines more choices when it comes to flying in and out of the Gulf State.

During an Arabian Travel Market event in Dubai, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the two airlines on Thursday, May 4. The expanded interline agreement between the rival airlines, initially focusing on inbound passenger traffic from key markets in Europe and China, aims to boost tourism in the UAE significantly.

Photo: Courtesy of Emirates

Under the terms of the agreement, passengers of either airline can purchase a single ticket to Dubai (DXB) and return via Abu Dhabi (AUH) and vice versa. Passengers can also opt for ‘multi-city flights’ to fly to the UAE from a destination served by Emirates and then fly to another destination operated by Etihad, for example. In addition, passengers who fly into the UAE with Emirates and fly out with Etihad, or vice versa, will not be charged any extra fees for the service.

This agreement will allow tourists more time to explore the UAE’s different cities and provide them with greater flexibility over their flight dates and times. Dubai, the home of Emirates, and Abu Dhabi, the home of Etihad, are only separated by 130 kilometers (81 miles), so traveling between the two airports should not be a major obstacle for travelers.

Photo: Courtesy of Etihad Airways

“We are pleased to be working with Etihad Airways – this time to allow each carrier to offer a new range of seamless travel options in and out of the UAE,” said Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates. “Emirates and Etihad are leveraging on our strengths to expand our respective customer offerings and boost UAE tourism.

“We believe this new agreement provides a strong foundation to develop further opportunities between both airlines and is an example of our commitment to the UAE’s vision for continued economic diversification.”

Anotonoaldo Neves, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Emirates in our shared mission to support inbound tourism to the UAE and facilitate travel to our vibrant cities.

Photo: Dubai, UAE. Courtesy of Wael Hneini / Unsplash

“With two world-class airlines supporting UAE tourism, our interline agreement will make it more convenient for our guests to experience the best of Abu Dhabi and Dubai on one single ticket while promising to deliver an exceptional flying experience whether they fly with Etihad Airways or Emirates. It’s a win-win proposition for travelers to the UAE.”

This is not the first collaboration between Emirates and Etihad, two airlines that have traditionally been fierce rivals. In 2018, the two carriers signed an MoU to improve aviation security by sharing vital intelligence information about the areas and markets they both operate in.

However, this latest expansion of their interline agreement primarily focuses on boosting tourism in the UAE, which is expected to provide more than a million jobs to the local economy and contribute 5.4% of the country’s total GDP by 2027.