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Emirates Airline has buddied up with fellow Dubai-based low-cost carrier FlyDubai with an expansive codeshare agreement, schedule alignment and network optimization. Simply put, the arrangement will allow passengers of both airlines to book seamless travel on the two carriers, giving them dozens more convenient travel options.

This is a win for the airlines as well as their passengers — and some think it may be a precursor to a full merger. FlyDubai is government-owned, while Emirates is owned by the Emirates Group. It just so happens that one person — His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum — is Chairman at both airlines, as well as Dubai airports and many other aviation-related entities in Dubai. The point at which government control begins and ends is a bit blurry.

Emirates A380 at the 2015 Dubai Air Show - by Paul Thompson
Emirates A380 at the 2015 Dubai Air Show – by Paul Thompson

Emirates is a big airline with a lot of very big planes. Its fleet is comprised almost completely of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, and Emirates has the world’s largest fleet of both types. Planespotters.net says that Emirates currently has 263 aircraft, with 16 more still on order. FlyDubai has a fleet of 59 Boeing 737-800s that seat up to 189 passengers. It’ll also be receiving one Boeing 737 MAX.

This partnership gives Emirates the ability to market shorter flights to its passengers; flights that Emirates wouldn’t want to operate with one of its own giant aircraft. In the same fashion, FlyDubai benefits from being able to market flights to far-away destinations.

FlyDubai 737 First Class, by Paul Thompson
FlyDubai 737 First Class, by Paul Thompson

The partnership will also help Emirates match the flight offerings of Qatar Airways, which already has its own fleet of short-haul aircraft, including the Airbus A320 and A321. Qatar is the top-ranked international airline, according to the ranking service SkyTrax. However, it’s been struggling a bit this year, due to the suspension of flights from other Middle-Eastern countries; Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. In spite of that, Qatar is currently operating some intra-Europe routes for British Airways during a crew strike.

The partnership between Emirates and FlyDubai will go into effect toward the end of this year. Combined, the two airlines plan to have 380 planes flying between 240 destinations by 2022.

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