Poll: Will airline global alliances become more important as the industry goes through the pandemic crisis and recovery?

The relationship between U.S. airlines and Gulf carriers has been hostile for years. Emirates’ launch of a fifth-freedom Airbus A380 service from Milan to New York in October 2013 led American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines to launch a massive PR campaign about alleged unfair government subsidies for Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates and request the U.S. government to intervene.

The once-massive campaign had become all but unnoticeable before the industry collapsed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In a highly unusual turn, American and Qatar set aside their publicly traded differences and announced a new codeshare deal at the end of February, an agreement that had been suspended since 2017 in spite of the two carriers’ Oneworld alliance membership. While Etihad is shrinking to boutique-airline status, the big question has been whether Emirates might consider a deal with another U.S. carrier, presumably United or Delta.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, has a clear answer: Yes. “It makes far more sense to have Emirates deal with one of the Big Three [than join a global alliance] and deliver huge amounts of business, because we are the single largest producer . . . coming out of the East [beyond Europe] into the United States,” Clark says. “There’s a huge opportunity there that Emirates could bring to the United States without going into an alliance. It would be a tap that you turned on, sat back and watched us fill large numbers of their airplanes.”

This is an interactive piece, please allow poll to load. 


Get regular analysis and insights from Aviation Week Network’s award-winning editorial and data teams on technology and business advances impacting the global aviation, aerospace and defense industries