Emirates president Tim Clark told Reuters that the airline would consider cooperation with another major UAE airline – the rival Etihad Airways in, for example, such areas as procurement. However, he denied the merger option, unless such decision was made by the owners.

Etihad Airways also does not jump to dismiss the intention of tightening bonds. “We constantly seek opportunities for innovative collaboration with other organizations, where it makes business and commercial sense,” Etihad spokesman said in an emailed statement to Reuters.  

Both airlines are from UAE and operate global networks, but are owned by different Arab states: Etihad – by Abu Dhabi government and Emirates – by Dubai. The two airlines share one other similarity, both having reported huge financial losses in the prior financial year.

In July 2017, Etihad Airways reported a financial loss first time in five years: which accounted for of $1.87 billion for 2016 – a huge difference from a profit of $103 million in 2015. Emirates, on the hand, reported financial profit for the year 2016-17, but at $670 million the amount constitutes a 70% fall in profit since 2015.

In addition, Etihad Airways is dealing with the legacy of its previous CEO James Hogan who was famous for the bold strategy of attracting traffic to Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub by buying minority stakes in often troubled foreign airlines. Two of Etihad’s ventures – Alitalia and airberlin – have filed for administration in 2017.