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Emirates and flydubai: from codesharing to terminal sharing

On Sunday, October 29, Emirates and flydubai began applying their codesharing agreement, but mum is the word so far. Perhaps it will take some time to tally the results, such as measuring the frequency of codeshare flights and the demand for them and surveying what passengers are experiencing, among others.

AMEinfo asked both airlines to provide it with some information on this. An Emirates spokesperson said that any information on the new codesharing operation and the reactions of passengers towards it would be sent in a press release starting the week of November 5.

But a flydubai representative told AMEinfo that Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group and Chairman of flydubai, had said: “This is an exciting first step in unlocking the benefits of the partnership for passengers who will have the opportunity to enjoy the unique advantages each airline offers as well as greater choice and flexibility when connecting via Dubai. This is just the start and as we expand the partner network in the coming months we will open up more opportunities for our passengers to explore the world.”

Read: Will flydubai deal save Emirates Airline’s plummeting profits?

No one was so far was sure how airlines would reduce their passenger wait times and deal with the confusion created when walking from one terminal to the next on codeshare flights.

Today we have inkling.

Sharing is caring

Emirates offered a “no comment” through a spokesperson, but sharing terminals is a serious discussion taking place right now.

In a statement to AMEinfo, attributed to a flydubai Spokesperson, came the following:

“There are ongoing discussions as our partnership expands for increased passenger connectivity and as we have previously outlined. Further details will be announced in due course. Working together, Minimum Connection Time (MCT) have already been reduced to 120 minutes and we continue to work with all stakeholders to provide the best services to our passengers. This approach is reflective of the UAE’s position as a centre for aviation.”

The way sharing terminals would have to work is if, for only codesharing trips, flydubai starts to take off and land in Terminal 3, currently the runway site for Emirates and Quantas.

For other routes not shared with Emirates, flydubai would stay in Terminal 2, a space that it shares with other budget airlines.

That can’t happen vice versa, because the facilities and areas available in Terminal 2 cannot accommodate the bigger size planes of Emirates.

The airlines operate different aircraft. Emirates only flies wide-body Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, while flydubai has narrow-bodied Boeing 737s.

Read: Emirates-Etihad merger: will they or won’t they? 

In a recent conversation with Dubai Airports Chief Executive Paul Griffiths, Reuters has reported that proposals to improve connections for passengers between the two airlines are under consideration.

“We need to make a strategic decision about how the traffic distribution will work,” he told Reuters, “Then we need to move quickly into a design and construction phase to build whatever facilities are necessary for that, or adapt existing facilities around the new business model.”

“What we are trying to do is see if we can get some sort of operating model established with them that will mean the infrastructure is shared on a more operational basis” Griffiths said.

A terminal case

Between Emirates and flydubai, there are 317 aircraft going to 216 destinations around the world, but a joint statement said earlier this year that the tally of expanded planes would reach 380 flying to 240 destinations, 5 years from today.

Emirates will expand its network to 29 flydubai destinations through codeshare flights.

Griffiths had said that while sharing terminals was the most likely of solutions being looked at, relocating flydubai’s operations to Terminal 1, next to Terminal 3, was also an option. Terminal 1 is where international airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa are.

Read: Gulf Air and Turkish Airlines latest to partner; ‘more to come

Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst, StrategicAero Research, told AMEinfo:

“In the first few weeks, we can expect many customers asking questions to both carriers, but as they deepen their integration and provide more communication to passengers, the codeshare pact between Emirates and flydubai will quickly yield positive results, particularly since many passengers have long since wanted the two to codeshare to make flight connections better for their journeys.”

On moving terminals, he added: “If flydubai eventually moves to T3, which I am guessing they will, then that connectivity aspect becomes even better for customers. It makes scheduling, rostering, slot usage and other synergies derive real monetary savings and produce better operational efficiencies.”

“I don’t see any downsides to the Emirates-flydubai deal,” he concluded.