It is not, perhaps, quite the level of strange bedfellows pondered by Shakespeare in The Tempest, but a new strategic partnership agreement between Air Canada and Emirates is certainly an interesting development. The two carriers announced plans for codeshare flights to come later this year, as well as some frequent flyer reciprocity.
“This strategic agreement will create network synergies, and Air Canada customers will have additional, convenient options when travelling between Canada and the United Arab Emirates as well as destinations beyond Dubai,” said Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive Officer at Air Canada. “We look forward to introducing Air Canada codeshare service on key Emirates flights, as well as adding the EK code on select Air Canada flights, and welcoming Emirates customers on our services later this year.”
The deal is particularly surprising given current limitations on capacity between the two countries. The Canadian government has held fast in limiting Emirates’ access to its market. Ostensibly this was done to protect Air Canada. To see this partnership blossom under those conditions is quite intriguing.
The release implies that the codeshare will apply on both carriers’ flights between Canada and the UAE, as well as for onward connections beyond the gateways.
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline added, “This is a significant partnership that will enable our customers access to even more destinations in Canada and the Americas, via our Toronto and US gateways. It also opens up many new route combinations for travelers across Emirates’ and Air Canada’s extensive networks in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.”
On the loyalty side the release calls for “reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and reciprocal lounge access for qualifying customers.” Additional details are expected pending regulatory approval.
Under the assumption that this agreement also includes reciprocal earn and burn of points, the Aeroplan program and its various transfer partners may have just become the best avenue for accessing reward travel on Emirates metal. That is highly speculative right now, but the partner award structure in Aeroplan is very compelling already. Adding Emirates flights into the mix would be a big win for its members.
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