Dubai: Inbound travellers are set to enjoy increased convenience and seamless connectivity in the UAE once the Etihad-Emirates agreement comes into force.
The agreement could also have a far-reaching impact on inter-emirate tourism, with major entertainment venues and parks in the UAE getting a boost from international tourists, said Ahmed Soliman, Managing Director of Travel Connections Arabia (TCA).
Tourists in the UAE, for short-stays, for example, spend a few days exploring Dubai’s tourist offerings, travel around the country and leave Abu Dhabi-based entertainment venues - like Yas Island and the Louvre - for the end of their trip. “Many tourists on short-stays end up not travelling to other emirates due to shortage of time. And the travel time between both emirates is only an hour-and-a-half,” he added.
The agreement is also significant progress for UAE’s aviation sector, said Max Kingsley-Jones, a senior consultant with Ascend by Cirium, an aviation analytics firm. “With this, passengers of Emirates and Etihad (both hub carriers) have access to seamless connectivity across both airlines’ vast networks. It can give them access to destinations not currently served by the origin airline,” said Kingsley-Jones. “It offers tourists flexibility to easily travel from one emirate to another without worrying about returning to their port of arrival for departure,” he added.
Moreover, both these airlines stand out regarding network connectivity, technology, customer and airport experience. “It has the potential to build on inbound traffic because travellers today want seamless connectivity and ease in travel. They want to use easy technology to avail of these services, and the booking and ease provided by both these airlines are superior. There is only scope for further collaboration,” said Ranjit Peter, Business Head Air MEA at TBO.com.
While details on the agreement’s impact on airfares are yet to be made clear, industry experts believe other carriers with operations in the region may have to offer competitive prices on their flight tickets to compete against the combined force of Emirates and Etihad.
Soliman said, “Both airlines are premium carriers from a service perspective. While the implications of this agreement on airfares are yet to be made clear, it comes with various benefits for the passenger. I see that competing carriers would have to face stiff competition from UAE carriers and offer their passengers better fares to retain customers.”
Kingsley-Jones added: “It would also be interesting to learn how Emirates’ sister carrier flydubai could benefit from this interline agreement as they already share a partnership agreement which gives passengers of either airline convenient access to the combined network.” Passengers can connect to flydubai destinations via the Emirates route network and vice versa.