Why Hasn’t Emirates Joined a Global Airline Alliance?

by SharonKurheg

You probably read the news in recent months that Oman Air plans to join oneworld alliance later this year (psst! This is why oneworld specifically writes their name with bold print and lowercase first letter), and Fiji Airways will fully join them by 2025.

a screenshot of a planeAnd earlier this year, you probably read that SAS plans to leave Star Alliance and join SkyTeam.

Why is this a big deal?

When an airline joins an airline alliance, it’s always news. For airlines, it means working together in marketing and offering flights and connections across their networks. And for flyers, that means more opportunities for connections and using their frequent flyer miles on this new part of the alliance.

What airline alliances are out there?

The big 3

There are 3 big airline alliances out there: oneworld, SkyTeam and StarAlliance. If you’re new to the points and miles world, here’s a beginner’s guide to them.

The other 3

There are 3 other airline alliances that you probably rarely, if ever, hear about. You can learn more about them at this link.

Why don’t some airlines join alliances?

All told, there aren’t a whole lot of airlines that are actually in an alliance. Not including the ones that are going to join and depart in the not-too-distant future, the current countdown is:

  • oneworld: 13
  • SkyTeam: 19
  • Star Alliance: 26

That’s 58 out of over 1,100 commercial airlines worldwide. It kind of makes you wonder why some of those other airlines, especially the larger, more established and successful ones, aren’t members of an airline alliance.

What about Emirates?

a large airplane taking offTake Emirates, for example. The flag carrier airline of the United Arab Emirates was founded almost 40 years ago. It’s popular. It’s profitable. It even has codeshare agreements with over 30 airlines, including Qantas, JetBlue, TAP Air Portugal, and Japan Airlines. You’d think it would be a member of an airline alliance, right?

Emirates and Star Alliance?

Last month, Simple Flying had a piece about Emirates gaining another codeshare – this time with South America’s avianca. They said some were speculating if Emirates codesharing with so many Star Alliance airlines in recent years meant the airline was perhaps one step closer to joining StarAlliance.

Nope. Not happening

Welp, Forbes published a piece the other day about Emirates executives visiting Miami to launch a new route to Bogota. One of the airline’s Executive VPs laid that rumor down to rest very nicely. From Forbes:

When asked about the possibility of joining the global alliance founded by United Airlines, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines, Emirates Executive Vice President of Passenger Sales and Country Management Nabil Sultan Al Murr said, “Our philosophy is to work with an airline or partner where we can add value, so that’s the essence. If you become part of (a global) alliance, you miss the opportunity to work with companies outside the alliance.”

This would be in tune with what Simple Flying wrote towards the end of their piece on the topic:

While there is speculation that Emirates could join Star Alliance, many argue that there is no reason for that to happen, given that the airline already has such strong partnerships and a massive network of its own.

According to Emirates’ website, it partners with Aegean Airlines, COPA Airlines, TAP Portugal, and South African Airways and has interline agreements with several other Star Alliance carriers. Emirates’ partnerships extend beyond the Star Alliance, and many would be in jeopardy if it decided to join the alliance.

I guess that answers that…both speculatively, and from the horse’s mouth.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Natasha June 7, 2024 - 4:35 pm

Emirates won’t be accepted into any alliance is the answer. Star Alliance already has Turkish who would not welcome them in.


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