Etihad Reveals New Strategic Co-Operation With Gulf Air

Etihad Airways and Gulf Air have announced a strategic commercial operation agreement that will expand their current codeshare agreement to build both airlines networks well beyond their Abu Dhabi and Bahrain hubs.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787
The flight time between AUH and BAH is a little over an hour. Photo: Getty Images

In a statement released by Etihad Airways today seen by Simple Flying, both Middle Eastern carriers laid out what they would like to achieve with the new agreement while highlighting four major areas which are:

  • Expanding the existing codeshare agreement  beyond the two airlines Abu Dhabi and Bahrain hubs
  • The enhancement of reciprocal frequent flyer benefits for both Falconflyer and Etihad Guest members
  • Optimize connectivity and schedules for flights between Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) and Bahrain International Airport (BAH)
  • Develop a seamless customer experience when traveling between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain

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Both airlines are building on a 2018 MOU

The agreement says that the national flag carrier of Abu Dhabi and the national flag carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain has signed a Strategic Commercial Cooperation Agreement (SCCA) to deepen their partnership on flights between Abu Dhabi, Manama, and beyond.

The new SCCA between Etihad Airways and Gulf Air is still subject to approval from governments and regulatory bodies. While building on a  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) the airlines signed in 2018, the SCCA lays out actions needed to broaden Etihad and Gulf Air commercial cooperation.

The SCCA will add 30 destinations

In what is described as a “phased approach,” the SCCA looks to build a closer operation between the two Gulf State allies. In the first phase expected to be implemented by June 2021, the codeshare agreement first signed in 2019 will be greatly expanded. By doing this, both Etihad Airways and Gulf Air will add 30 combined destinations from their Abu Dhabi and Bahrain hubs.

Tony Douglas, Etihad Aviation Group GCEO and Captain Waleed AlAlawi, Gulf Air Acting CEO sign SCAA agreement LR
Before joining Etihad in 2018, Tony Douglas was CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports Company. Photo: Etihad Airways

Regardless of which airline is operating, flights between AUH and BAH Etihad Guest and Falconflyer members will have access to each other’s airport lounges and enhanced recognition throughout their journey. This will also include the harmonization of products and policies in all areas, including baggage and ancillaries.

Both parties now plan to take a fresh look at the 2018 MOU and explore what can be done to enhance maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) along with pilot and crew training. Both airlines will also look into how they work more closely together in the air freight department.

Both CEOs are pleased with the SCCA

Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group Tony Douglas signed the Strategic Commercial Cooperation Agreement and Gulf Air’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Captain Waleed AlAlawi.

When speaking about the new SCCA in Etihad Airways statement, Tony Douglas said:

“This agreement reinforces the strength of the ongoing partnership between our two airlines. We look forward to exploring pragmatic ways in which the two carriers can increasingly work seamlessly between our two capitals, enhance benefits and customer experience for our most frequent travelers and further extend the reach of our joint networks beyond our hubs.”

For his part, Gulf Air’s Captain AlAlawi said:

“Our relationship with Etihad Airways has always been strong, and today we are reaching a higher level of collaboration with many more opportunities on the horizon between the national carriers of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. This agreement will empower both of us to offer a more elevated experience to passengers and widen their travel options.”

Captain Waleed and Tony Douglas GF x EY Signing Ceremony LR
Captain Waleed has an MBA in Aviation Management from the City University of London. Photo: Etihad Airways

It would appear that the two airlines want to streamline their operations on the AUH-BAH route while also building their codeshare network. Both of these seem like good ideas and are maybe something other airlines should look into doing.

Have you ever flown both Etihad and Gulf Air? If so, please tell us which airline you preferred in the comments.