Alaska Airlines Cuts Partnership With Emirates

Alaska Airlines has announced that its partnership with Emirates will come to an end on July 31st. This move is not all that surprising, given Alaska’s recent entry into the oneworld alliance. Instead of Emirates, Alaska is favoring Qatar Airways as its Middle Eastern partner.

Alaska Boeing 737-900
Alaska Airlines has ended its partnership with Emirates. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Alaska Airlines is ending its partnership with Emirates

Alaska Airlines announced on its website that the airline’s partnership with Emirates will end on July 31st. For travel booked from today onwards with Emirates, passengers will earn no Alaska Airlines miles if they fly on August 1st or beyond. Passengers will continue to earn miles on tickets booked for travel through July 31st.

However, passengers who have booked Emirates itineraries before June 2nd for travel after August 1st will continue to earn miles. However, passengers will need to submit a “Mileage Credit” request to receive miles.

Award redemptions on Emirates are available through July 31st. For future travel, changes made to an award booked on Emirates on or after August 1st will require a cancellation. Passengers will then need to re-book that award trip on a Qatar Airways partner.

Emirates Boeing 777
Emirates flights will no longer qualify for mileage earnings or elite status earning from August 1st onwards. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Favoring Qatar Airways

On March 31st, Alaska Airlines officially became a member of the oneworld alliance. Emirates, which remains non-aligned, is in direct competition with oneworld member, Qatar Airways. Alaska Airlines prefers instead to route its passengers on Qatar Airways with mileage earnings and redemptions.

Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways is Alaska’s preferred Middle Eastern partner. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The partnership with Qatar Airways will continue to roll out. However, with Alaska updating its website to show the end of the Emirates partnership, it highlighted that passengers can instead “fly Qatar Airways in unparalleled comfort with their revolutionary Qsuite, the most private Business Class in the sky.”

Qatar Airways recently started flying to Seattle, where Alaska Airlines is based and the carrier’s largest hub. In Seattle, passengers can connect to destinations in Hawaii, California, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and so many more destinations.

Alaska oneworld
Alaska Airlines, now a member of the oneworld alliance, is focusing its partnerships there. Photo: Alaska Airlines

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A bigger hit for Emirates

Arguably, this is a bigger loss for Emirates than for Alaska Airlines. First and foremost, Alaska Airlines is getting access to another Middle Eastern airline with a network that extends into India, Africa, and the Middle East. Plus, as Alaska Airlines does not fly widebody long-haul routes, Qatar Airways has already inaugurated flights between Seattle and Doha.

Emirates does not have any other partners on the West Coast, but it serves cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. All three are major Alaska Airlines hubs.

For Emirates, the loss of Alaska Airlines may put some strain on its Seattle to Dubai route, especially considering that there is  competition to another point in the Middle East with connecting opportunities to a large swath of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Alaska Airlines Cuts Partnership With Emirates
Emirates will be left with one US partner: JetBlue. Photo: Getty Images.

Emirates can continue to rely on its connecting network to help keep Seattle flights full, though it will need to ensure that it has enough of an originating market to make the flight work. This may lead the airline to conduct some demand stimulation on price in an effort to drum up more fliers who may become loyal to the airline after trying the product, though the competition with Qatar Airways is tough.

Traditionally, when an airline loses a major partner to a rival, it tries to find another airline to fill the gap. For example, when American Airlines lost its partner with LATAM, it turned to Gol in Brazil to fill the gap.

The only other airline strong enough in Seattle to provide Emirates feed is Delta Air Lines. The problem with Delta is that it has led a war against Middle Eastern airlines in the past, and there appears to be too much bad blood for an Emirates-Delta partnership to materialize.

How Emirates responds remains to be seen. For Alaska Airlines and its loyal customers, the partnership with Qatar Airways will take over from the Emirates partnership and provide connections onward across the globe.

Are you sad to see Alaska Airlines cut its partnership with Emirates? Let us know in the comments!

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