Etihad Airways and El Al Israel Airlines have announced the launch of their code sharing agreement. In addition to sharing codes on flights, the airlines will have reciprocal frequent-flier benefits for passengers of both airlines. This agreement builds on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed in November 2020. The normalization of relations between the United Arab of Emirates (UAE) and Israel benefits air travel for both countries. As new airlines and routes begin to emerge in the market, El Al has taken its first steps to close cooperation with an airline from the UAE.
This is the first such agreement El Al has entered into with an airline from the UAE since the historic signing of the Abraham Accords last year. The Accords were signed on August 13 and represented the first public normalization of relations between any Arab country and Israel in decades as the last Arab country to normalize relations with Israel was Jordan in October 1994. In the months following the signing of the Abraham Accords, El Al led all airlines to reinstate direct flights between the United Arab of Emirates and Israel. It began flying the route during the start of September and established a cargo corridor soon after. However, it was Etihad that landed the first passenger flight to Israel in the middle of October, setting in place a trend that would see 28 flights per week operating between the two countries.In November, El Al and Etihad virtually signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) because of the COVID situation to cooperate closer on flights. This was the first such cooperative agreement to be signed since the Accords were signed and promised benefits for both airlines and passengers.
For flights beginning July 18, El Al will add its 'LY' code to Etihad twice-weekly service from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv. The new partnership will extend beyond Etihad's Abu Dhabi hub; it is planned to include destinations in Australia, Bahrain, India, Korea, Seychelles, and the Philippines starting August 1. The airlines are also allowing the transfer of frequent flier benefits across their partnership as well. Members of Etihad Guest and Matmid programs will be able to earn and redeem miles of flights across both carriers' networks.
The partnership between the airlines is set to go even deeper in the future, and the codeshare and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits are just the beginning. In the next phase of the extending codeshare agreement, which is subject to getting applicable governmental and regulatory approvals, Etihad will offer passengers an additional 14 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Asia, and the United States by adding its 'EY' code to El Al flights, the companies said. The original MOU included provisions to explorer cooperation on maintenance, repair, and operation (MRO), pilot and crew training, and cargo operations. The two carriers are currently working to develop these elements, which could see them coming even closer shortly.
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