Israeli flag-carrier El Al and United Arab Emirates flag-carrier Etihad Airways are to discuss closer ties which could include codesharing on their networks.
The two airlines have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore closer ties, following the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel, reports FlightGlobal.
Etihad Airways plans to operate flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv from March next year.
Codesharing between the Israeli airline and any Arab carrier would have seemed impossible until recently, but the Abraham Accords deal, signed on Sept 15 this year, is gathering pace.
The talks will also cover reciprocal frequent-flyer programmes while the airlines’ maintenance and cargo arms will examine cooperating on maintenance engineering and freight flows.
The partnership is a monumental one.
“This memorandum is only the start and we believe that together, the two flag-carriers will be able to provide our mutual customers with the best possible product and service,” El Al chief Gonen Usishkin said. “Already, the common goals we have outlined speak for the success of our future co-operation.”
Etihad Aviation Group chief Tony Douglas said the preliminary agreement is the “foundation of a future strong, ongoing relationship” between the airlines’ hubs.
The Abu Dhabi carrier added that the agreement features plans for the “optimal use” of pilot and cabin crew training facilities.
“Our destination management teams will also collaborate to encourage reciprocal inbound tourism to Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.”