El Al signs cooperation MOU with Etihad Airways

Gonen Usishkin and Tony Douglas at virtual signing of cooperation MOU / Photo: El Al, PR

The two airlines plan codesharing, recognition of points earned on each other's loyalty schemes, and cooperation on maintenance and cargo.

El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) and Etihad Airways, the national carrier of Abu Dhabi and the second largest airline in the UAE after Emirates, have signed a memorandum of understanding on wide-ranging cooperation. Among the headings are a code-sharing agreement (whereby two airlines share a flight operated by one of them), allowing frequent flyer points to be earned and used in each other's frequent flyer clubs, and cooperation on maintenance and cargo in Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.

The airlines' announcement said that codeshare services would be introduced not only for flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv, but for their global flight networks. El Al already has code-sharing agreements with several airlines, among them Swiss, Iberia, Ethiopian Airlines, Qantas, and Aeroflot.

The MOU was signed ‘virtually’ by Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, and Gonen Usishkin, Chief Executive Officer of EL AL Israel Airlines.

Acording to the announcement, the teams at the Etihad Guest and EL AL Matmid loyalty programs will explore reciprocal "earn and burn" opportunities for members, as well as other benefits. The airlines’ destination management teams will also collaborate to encourage reciprocal inbound tourism to Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. Neither El Al nor Etihad belongs to any international aviation alliance involving airline loyalty schemes, but whereas in El Al's case this is for political reasons, Etihad, and Emirates, operate independent schemes out of choice.

"Following EL AL’s historic flight to Abu Dhabi, the first ever flight between Israel and the UAE, this MOU is the foundation of what we envision will be a strong ongoing relationship between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. We look forward to examining ways in which the two flag carriers - Etihad and EL AL - can work more closely together to improve business operations and enhance the experience for our guests," Douglas said.

"Following the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, we have been provided a great opportunity to examine the possibility of cooperation with Etihad Airways," said Usishkin. "This MOU is only the start and we believe that together, the two flag carriers will be able to provide our mutual customers with the best possible product and service. Already, the common goals we have outlined speak for the success of our future cooperation."

This week, Etihad Airways announced its intention of starting daily services between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv from March 28, 2021, coinciding with the Passover holiday. El Al has not yet announced an official starting date for services to the UAE, although it is operating charter flights. Israir is due to launch its service to Dubai on December 2, while the third Israeli airline, Arkia, will do so two weeks later. Israir has applied for permission to offer service between Dubai and Bahrain, with the aim of offering combined trips to the two countries. Israir will launch its Bahrain route on January 31, 2021.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 19, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

Gonen Usishkin and Tony Douglas at virtual signing of cooperation MOU / Photo: El Al, PR
Gonen Usishkin and Tony Douglas at virtual signing of cooperation MOU / Photo: El Al, PR
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