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Etihad and El Al Form Unlikely Codeshare Partnership

Despite tensions in the Middle East, Israeli flag carrier El Al has found an unlikely partner to help expand their growth. The airline announced a partnership with UAE-based Etihad Airways, which will include codesharing and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits for passengers flying aboard both carriers.

It’s a partnership very few could have imagined but will change travel throughout the Middle East once implemented. In a press release, Etihad Airways announced a “strategic cooperation” with El Al Israel Airlines, which will include both frequent flyer programs and codesharing.

Codesharing Partnership Comes After Diplomatic Relations Normalize

The partnership comes days after Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid visited the United Arab Emirates capital to celebrate his nation’s first embassy in the Persian Gulf. The two countries normalized their diplomatic relationships back in September 2020.

Under the deal, El Al will sell codeshare flights aboard Etihad’s twice-weekly flights between Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). The flights will give El Al flyers seamless exposure to many of Etihad’s destinations, including Australia, India, Korea and Seychelles. The new codeshare flights are on sale now.

On the other end, Etihad is planning for codesharing on 14 different El Al flights to Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. The plan is subject to regulatory approval.

The two carriers will also offer a reciprocal loyalty agreement between their two programs, Etihad Guest and El Al Matmid Frequent Flyer club. The agreement allows passengers to earn frequent flyer points in either program when flying both airlines but may not necessarily include reciprocal elite benefits.

“This is the first commercial partnership that El Al has established following the Abrahamic Accords,” Avigal Soreq, chief executive of El Al, said in a press release. “This is an important milestone as this codeshare will bring growing benefits to our passengers and to our respective airlines and countries.”

Codeshare Could Be First Step to El Al Expansion into Middle East

The new partnership between El Al and Etihad could be the first step towards expanding Israel’s footprint into the Middle East, with more flights potentially on the horizon. Reuters reports Lapid has plans to open diplomatic relations with other nations, even as tensions continue to rise with Palestine.

Feature image courtesy: El Al Israel Airlines

jlmlib July 4, 2021

Why is this an unlikely partnership? It might have been a few years ago but as you mention Israel and the UAE normalized their diplomatic relationships in September 2020.

edgewood49 July 4, 2021

It's a sign of the times and hopefully will continue to spread around the mideast, these "wars" need to stop. Todays world is full of trigger points. Back to point, what will be interesting is El Al's extensive security and background checks on all passengers. How will that play into passengers transferring. I am confident someone has that figured out.

toxman July 2, 2021

You need to correct an error in the first paragraph. It says the partnership is with Emirates. The partnership is in fact with Etihad which is an airline based in the United Arab Emirates.

awayIgo July 2, 2021

Way to go! Thank You former President Trump for facilitating the Abraham Accords.