Emirates Hopes New United Pact Evolves Into A JV 

Credit: Emirates

Emirates president Tim Clark would like to see the airline’s newly minted partnership with United Airlines evolve into a joint venture similar to its relationship with Qantas.

During an event on Sept. 14 to mark the creation of a new codeshare agreement between the two airlines, Clark said he hoped the relationship would mature into a joint venture, citing the success of the Emirates-Qantas JV, which was extended for an additional five years in late 2021.

He explained there is no revenue sharing in Emirates’ relationship with Qantas, rather Qantas is Emirates' “primary seller in the Australian market and they get a commission.”

Clark did acknowledge that given United’s stature in the Star Alliance, creating a JV with its new partner would also depend “on how Star would feel.”

The two airlines have put a tumultuous past behind them in order to create a new bond. United, along with Delta and American, were highly critical of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways during the last decade, claiming the three Gulf airlines were unfairly subsidized by their respective governments.

Clark explained that even during that bad time, Emirates “had its hand out, saying we should be working together.”

Now Emirates and United will start formally working together in November when they launch a new codesharing pact. Passengers on Emirates’ flights to United’s hubs in Chicago O’Hare (ORD), San Francisco (SFO) and Houston Intercontinental (IAH) will have access to nearly 200 cities in United’s network.

Beginning in March 2023, United is launching flights from Newark (EWR) to Dubai (DXB), giving customers the ability to connect to more than 100 cities served by Emirates and its affiliate Flydubai.

United has previously served Dubai from is hub at Washington Dulles (IAD), but ended that service in early 2016.

It is not clear which airline initiated discussions regarding a potential partnership, but United’s CCO Andrew Nocella told Aviation Week Network during the event that United and Emirates had been in discussions for roughly two years.

United’s new partnership with Emirates occurs weeks after Air Canada and Emirates announced plans to launch their own codeshare agreement. Although Emirates has forged new strategic partnerships with two Star Alliance partners in a matter of months, Clark said the airline has no plans to join one of the traditional airline alliance groups.

He explained the airline grows organically, and controls its own destiny. The potential codeshare was reported by The Air Current last month.

Lori Ranson

Lori covers North American and Latin airlines for Aviation Week and is also a Senior Analyst for CAPA - Centre for Aviation.