Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, and El Al Israel Airlines carrier signed a strategic collaboration deal on July 1, 2021, that included a new codeshare network that extended beyond their respective hubs. It will offer passengers greater choice and make connections more seamless. The enhanced relationship builds on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked by the carriers in 2020, which came after the historic Abraham Accords between the UAE and Israel.
The airline established a codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates El Al, where Members of Etihad Guest and El Al Matmid will be able to earn and redeem miles while flying on both carriers’ networks under the terms of a reciprocal loyalty arrangement. Etihad and El Al acknowledged plans for expanded commercial cooperation in cargo, engineering, loyalty, destination management, and the most efficient use of pilot and cabin crew training facilities stated in the Memorandum of Understanding.
Among these will be the optimization of maintenance, repair, and overhaul opportunities and measures to increase the volume of cargo traffic flowing into and out of Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.
Etihad has announced that its flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv would use El Al’s LY designator code. From July 18, 2021, Israel’s national airline will add its code to Etihad’s existing regular service connecting Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Tel Aviv, Israel. The agreement will then expand on Aug. 1 to cover Australia, Bahrain, India, Korea, the Philippines, and Seychelles. Etihad Airways also has plans to add its code to 14 EL AL destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States in the future.
The new codeshare flights are now available for purchase. El Al will sell codeshare flights on Etihad’s twice-weekly flights between Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) and Abu Dhabi International Airport under the terms of the agreement (AUH).
Israel’s national carrier has found an intriguing partner to help them develop their business. This decision comes less than a year after Israel and the UAE signed a historic agreement on developing diplomatic connections between Israel and many Arab states; the two airlines are putting the cooperation into action, outlined as progress in a November-2020 Memorandum of Understanding. The announcement comes only days after Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid paid a visit to the capital of the United Arab Emirates to mark the opening of his country’s first embassy in the Persian Gulf. In September 2020, the two countries normalized their diplomatic relations.
Avigal Soreq, CEO of EL AL Israel Airlines, stated, “This is EL AL’s first commercial collaboration since the Abrahamic Accords. This is a significant milestone since this codeshare will benefit our passengers and our respective airlines and countries in the long run. In this partnership, the EL AL and Etihad teams share a common goal, and we hope to see it grow in the future.
“We are very pleased to be able to announce the commencement of our codeshare and frequent flyer collaboration with El Al,” says Tony Douglas, CEO of Etihad Aviation Group. This cooperation will give guests of both carriers more options and connections and a variety of advantages for frequent travelers between and beyond our respective hubs in Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. Etihad Airways “will provide extra choice and connection for both carriers’ guests” in the next phase of the codeshare partnership. However, Etihad must first obtain all relevant government clearances before using the “EY” code on its partner’s flights.
In essence, This is excellent news for travelers to the Middle East. Regular travelers will be fascinated by this news. Etihad’s more premium in-flight items may appeal to Israel-bound travelers, plus there will be more redemption possibilities for points and miles earned on El Al flights.