EL AL Israel Airlines (El Al), the flag carrier of Israel, and Etihad Airways, the second flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), signed a virtual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore deeper cooperation among both air carriers.
Following the agreement, El Al and Etihad set joint codeshare services between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv intending to create a deep partnership in the fields of cargo operations, destination management as well as the optimal use of pilot and cabin crew training facilities. The document was signed virtually by Tony Douglas, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad, and Gonen Usishkin, the Chief Officer of El Al.
Douglas outlined that the agreement was reached following EL AL’s historic flight to Abu Dhabi, the first-ever flight between Israel and the UAE, made on August 31, 2020.
“This MOU is the foundation of what we envision will be a strong ongoing relationship between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. We look forward to examining ways in which the two flag carriers – Etihad and EL AL – can work more closely together to improve business operations and enhance the experience for our guests,“ Douglas was quoted in a press release on November 23, 2020.
Besides the codeshare operations, under the terms of MOU, both airlines would explore reciprocal earn and burn opportunities for El Al and Etihad as well as find solutions to encourage reciprocal inbound tourism to Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.
“Following the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, we have been provided a great opportunity to examine the possibility of cooperation with Etihad Airways. This MOU is only the start and we believe that together, the two flag carriers will be able to provide our mutual customers with the best possible product and service. Already, the common goals we have outlined speak for the success of our future cooperation,” outlined Usishkin.
In addition, after signing the MOU, El Al and Etihad considered stepping into further negotiations about deeper partnership among cargo and engineering divisions of both air carriers by optimizing current MRO opportunities. According to the statement, the airlines also planned to increase the volume of cargo operations between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv as well as across El Al and Emirates combined networks.