The Big 3-on-3 Fight

During the past years, most of the Big 3 Gulf Carriers (Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways) have been embroiled in a battle with the Big 3 US Carriers (Delta, United and American). Of these carriers, the most vocal anti-Gulf has been Delta, whose CEOs have been blaming market distortion on the Gulf carriers’ subsidies. On that note, the US DOT recently ruled in favor of the Gulf carriers, a major win for smaller airlines like JetBlue who have strong connections with them.

More recently, American seems to be cozying up to more cooperation with the Gulf carriers. With Qatar Airways purchasing stakes in their Trans-Atlantic venture partner IAG and with their fellow OneWorld carrier LATAM, they are now forced to play ball. Because of this, they have been much less vocal against the carriers, and have, for the most part, allowed Delta and United to lead the charge against them. Nonetheless, Doug Parker (AAL’s CEO) has been against further Gulf Carrier expansion.

The Big Thee Gulf Carriers (Courtesy of Airways Magazine)

The Big Thee Gulf Carriers
(Courtesy of Airways Magazine)

Etihad and AA Buddy Up:

This week though, it seems that both AA and Etihad realized the benefits of their partnerships. Etihad has decided to increase the number of flights to American’s largest hub from 3 weekly, to daily rotations. This probably demonstrates the economic success of the partnership for both carriers. Given this change, this probably also diminishes the rumors that AA was going to start a flight from DFW to Abu Dhabi. Maybe they will start off flying to AUH from MIA? I don’t know, but it would be a cool flight addition to American’s network. It would also allow Etihad customers to connect more seamlessly to Latin American destinations.

The flight to DFW will be operated by a 777, with Etihad’s older first class product. As well, the aircraft offers staggered business class seats and 10 across economy. Nonetheless, they are very well regarded as having one of the best soft products out there, both in the front of the plane as well as the back.

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Etihad 777LR

Etihad 777LR

Etihad Old Pearl Business Class

Etihad Old Pearl Business Class

Etihad Economy

Etihad Economy

Emirates and JetBlue redefine Florida’s connections:

Further, Emirates announced that they would begin flying to Fort Lauderdale. At first, the route surprised me, since FLL is a much smaller airport with much less connections than say, Miami. Then I remembered that Emirates has a strong partnership with JetBlue. JetBlue operates a large focus city at FLL, similar to their flight to Orlando. The economics are there: people can connect at FLL for flights in the Caribbean and Latin America, and onward to Emirates global network.

Because of this, JetBlue was always one of the airlines that supported stronger cooperation between the Gulf carriers and their US based counterparts. With this, their customers get a chance to see the benefits of the partnership. Yet, this partnership has a few issues as well (see the DOT’s decision to allow Emirates to fly our troops).

The flight to FLL will operate with a 777LR, with 8 First class suites, 42 angled business class seats and 216 economy seats. FLL will be Emirates 11th destination in the US. It will clock in at 16 hours and 25 minutes on the DXB-FLL routing.

Emirates First Class

Emirates First Class

Emirates First Class

Emirates First Class

Emirates 777LR

Emirates 777LR

Emirates 777 Economy

Emirates 777 Economy

Landing Thoughts:

These sets of flights will allow passengers of both American and JetBlue to better connect. The flights demonstrate that codesharing works. American seems to be benefiting from the EY partnership. They have started to place their codes on more flights. In turn, EY is flying to DFW more often. The JetBlue-Emirates tie up has been very lucrative to both airlines. It has allowed them to offer their customers a much father reach than what each could do individually. Nonetheless, this is meant to irritate the likes of Delta Airlines, who still insist that the competition is unfair (although the US offers Chapter 11 Bankruptcy). Regardless, I am very happy to see the cooperation expanding. I am a fan of codeshare agreements, so here’s to more codeshares among these partners. As of now, reservations for both flight are available at Emirates.com and Etihad.com.