United Airlines partners with one-time foe Emirates, will launch Dubai flights

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Emirates airlines Boeing 777-31H(ER) takes off from Los Angeles international Airport on January 13, 2021.
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DULLES, Va. — United Airlines and Emirates will sell seats on each other’s planes, marking a turnaround in the business models of the one-time foes.

As part of the deal, United said it will start flights to Emirates’ hub in Dubai from Newark Liberty International Airport next March.

The codeshare agreement, which the CEOs announced Wednesday, will give the airlines access to the other carrier’s destinations and is the latest example of thawing in the relationship between U.S. and Gulf airlines, particularly as international air travel rebounds from more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tim Clark, Emirates’ president, said he hopes the United agreement could someday grow into a joint venture, like the one the Dubai-based airline has with Australian carrier Qantas.

“I don’t see why it shouldn’t,” Clark told reporters at an event unveiling the deal with United at a hangar at Dulles International Airport, near Washington, D.C.

The partnership, if approved by regulators, will also allow passengers to earn and burn frequent their flyer miles on each carrier.

United and other major U.S. carriers like Delta Air Lines and American Airlines had spent years lobbying against big Persian Gulf airlines’ expansion in the United States, arguing the state-owned carriers were competing unfairly with backing from government subsidies, which those countries denied.

Emirates said last week it is ending its codeshare partnership with United rival JetBlue Airways on Oct. 30. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad said it will expand its partnership with New York-based JetBlue.

Qatar Airways and American Airlines in June said they would expand their codeshare partnership.

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