Emirates has been exploring options to codeshare on flights with Air India, as the Indian flag carrier continues to pivot its brand to offer a more premium service since it was acquired by Tata Sons.
Talks with Air India “are at an early stage,” said Mohammad Sarhan, the Vice President of India and Nepal at Emirates, during an interview with India-based business news publication, Mint. Sarhan said that the Indian carrier’s main priority right now is the merger with Vistara, which is why the two sides are only at the “initial-level talk” stage. “Let’s see how it evolves,” Sarhan continued.
While Emirates has interline agreements with almost all airlines based in the country, the “best way forward” for the Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based airline would be a partnership with a premium carrier, Sarhan added.
When Air India and Singapore Airlines, a minority (49%) shareholder of Vistara, announced the merger between the now-privatized airline and Vistara in November 2022, Natarajan Chandrasekaran, the chairman of Tata Sons, stated that the merger would make Air India “a truly world-class airline”.
Tata Sons finalized the acquisition of Air India from the Indian government in January 2022 and, with 51%, is a majority shareholder of Vistara.
Emirates previously signed a codesharing and interline agreement with Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet in November 2019. However, while the interline agreement went into effect, the two airlines have not placed their codes on each other’s flights.
The United Arab Emirates’ national carrier has partnerships with two low-cost carriers, namely another Dubai, UAE-based airline flydubai, and the British no-frills airline easyJet.