Aerospace Summit: Collaboration key as door open for more Emirates-Etihad collaboration

May 1, 2018

Collaboration and closer partnerships was the theme of the opening morning of the Global Aerospace Summit which began in Abu Dhabi today.

In a keynote address Khaled Al Qubaisi, CEO of Mubadala Investment Company’s Aerospace, Renewables and ICT, told more than a thousand industry leaders that it was worth remembering that it in a period of rising protectionism it should be remembered that “it is partnerships that are changing globalisation, especially when it comes to disruptive new technologies.”
Partnerships was also a theme for the home nation’s airlines.
Tony Douglas, Group CEO of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Aviation Group, said that the airline group had not lost its appetite for partnerships of investments despite the costly relationships with Alitalia and Air Berlin.
“Etihad is 15 years old this year,” Douglas said. “We are in our adolescence. I know when I was 15 I had made some mistakes but I learned from them. We have learned from our experience with Alitalia and Air Berlin, and it was not all bad. We are not frightened of collaboration. We will be very measured and disciplined and will choose wisely.”
Asked about growing collaboration with neighbouring Dubai’s mega-carrier Emirates, Douglas said he “greatly admired” the Dubai airline. “We have learned from them,” he said. The two airlines have collaborated recently on a joint security programme and were working with Dnata for some overseas ground handling. “This is two UAE airlines working together. It makes us stronger.”
Douglas was followed on the stage by CEO of Flydubai, Ghaith Al Ghaith (Pictured below), whose hybrid-carrier partnered with Emirates six months ago. “More than 600,000 passengers has taken the opportunity to use the combined offer,” Al Ghaith said.
The partnership – and the introduction of the new Boeing 737Max aircraft – has seen the development of new routes. Al Ghaith cited Dubrovnik. “This route is difficult for Emirates and the widebody fleet, but perfect for the 737Max. It opens it up and delivers more business into the UAE and to access the Emirates network. It benefits both parties.”
Al Ghaith said the lie-flat beds made it a lot easier and more acceptable for Emirates premium passengers to utilise the budget carrier.
Al Ghaith also called on more countries to look again at visa regulations. Using Georgia as an example, he said that since the Caucasian country had opened up by making visa free to UAE and other nations, traffic had risen. “Tbilisi is a beautiful place,” he said “and it is benefiting from its open approach. We try to work with other countries to take down barriers, while of course recognising the need for national security.”

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