The agreement follows increasing moves to bring the two government-owned carriers closer together, and reduce unnecessary competition, enabling Emirates to benefit from Flydubai’s single-aisle operations.
Emirates says the airlines will still be managed independently but will “leverage” one another’s networks to “scale-up operations” and speed expansion.
Flydubai passengers will have “seamless connectivity” to the Emirates long-haul network, while Emirates says it will benefit from the low-cost operator’s regional service.
The tie-up will include co-ordinated scheduling and integrated collaboration to ensure a beneficial combination of the networks of each carrier, with increased feed and the possibility of opening new routes.
“This new partnership will unlock the immense value that the complementary models of both companies can bring to consumers, each airline, and to Dubai,” says Emirates Group chief Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum – who is also the chairman of Flydubai.
Emirates operates a long-haul fleet of 259 aircraft spanning a network of 157 destinations, while Flydubai has 58 single-aisle aircraft – all Boeing 737s – and serves 95 destinations.
The airline’s networks overlap to an extent but, between them, the carriers operate to 216 cities. They expect to be serving 240 destinations as a combined operation by 2022, with a total fleet of 380 aircraft.
Emirates says the tie-up will be implemented “over the coming months”, with initial “enhanced” codesharing from the fourth quarter of this year. It adds that the two sides are discussing various additional network and customer initiatives including frequent-flyer alignment.