Emirates’ fledgling partnership with low-cost carrier easyJet will strengthen the Dubai-based company’s European network, industry experts predict, enabling it to indirectly serve destinations that would otherwise be beyond logistical reach.
Emirates has long eschewed the formal alliances favored by the likes of British Airways, instead agreeing codeshare partnerships with 21 airlines, including several budget carriers such as US-based JetBlue Airways and Australia’s Jetstar Airways.
Last year, it began a complex partnership with FlyDubai, which is also wholly owned by Dubai’s government, in which the duo will codeshare, integrate their networks and deliver “fleet synergies.”
The easyJet tie-up, although initially restricted to flights in and out of London Gatwick, could bring significant benefits; easyJet customers can now make a single booking for its flights to Britain’s No. 2 airport that includes a connecting Emirates flight to Dubai. The same is available in reverse.
The agreement will be expanded to other destinations, the companies said in a joint statement — easyJet’s fleet of 308 aircraft flies to 159 airports in 34 countries. Emirates, meanwhile, flies to 150 destinations worldwide and has about 130 non-stop flights from Britain to Dubai per week, including three daily from Gatwick.
“Emirates gets to leverage the strength of easyJet’s broad European network — particularly to those cities that Emirates itself either doesn’t serve or has no plans to serve due to various restrictions on access, airplane size or slot availability,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research.
“It’s really a win-win situation from a connectivity standpoint, as well as offering the chance to accrue Skywards miles that could also be used on FlyDubai flights too.”
EasyJet has similar agreements with the likes of Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian, WestJet and Singapore Airlines, which typically include a minimum 2.5-hour connection time between flights to ensure passengers make their connecting flights. These tie-ups are in response to the growing trend of “self-connecting,” whereby passengers make bookings with multiple airlines to reach particular destinations at the lowest price, even though this requires collecting baggage and checking in again.
“It’s an extra opportunity because easyJet knows some people will self-connect anyway, so by facilitating that through agreements with other airlines it can generate extra revenue,” said John Strickland, a director at London’s JLS Consulting.
“Although this is relatively incremental in the case of easyJet because it’s flying about 95 percent full on most routes, so can’t squeeze on that many more people.”
EasyJet’s partnerships span 11 European airports, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Milan and Berlin, and the disparity between an Emirates flight and flying budget should do little to deter travelers. More