Gulf Carrier Newsreel: Emirates Announces First A350 Destinations, Etihad Introduces Five New Interline Partners

Emirates Premium Economy Sitz Kabinenansicht

Over the weekend, both globally renowned airlines from the United Arab Emirates gave away information about their immediate future. Emirates will soon receive its first Airbus A350 aircraft, complete with the new premium economy cabin. Now we know where the Dubai based carrier plans to send them. Meanwhile, competitor Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi announced five new airline partnerships.

Airbus A350-900 Opens New Doors for Emirates

Starting September 2024, Emirates will take deliveries of their Airbus A350-900, equipped with the carrier’s new premium economy class and business class cabin. Emirates expects to operate a fleet of ten A350s by March 2025 and has additional 55 on order. With 312 seats in a three-class-configurations (Business/Premium Economy/Economy), it will have the airlines’ lowest seating capacity next to the Boeing 777-200LR (302 seats total across Business and Economy), which is exclusively deployed on ultra-long-haul flights. That gives Emirates a new option for lower-demand routes it did not have since phasing out their Airbus A330 fleet in 2016.

The A350 in Emirates colors will first serve routes in the carrier’s Middle Eastern and Indian network. Long-haul flights to Europe are expected to start in November, with Edinburgh set to be the first destination. Overall, the airline confirmed the first 9 Airbus A350 destinations, appearing here in chronological order:

  • Bahrain, starting September 15
  • Kuwait City, starting September 16
  • Ahmedabad, India, starting October 27
  • Colombo, Sri Lanka, starting October 27
  • Mumbai, India, starting October 27
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom, starting November 4
  • Bologna, Italy, starting December 1
  • Lyon, France, starting December 1
  • Muscat, Oman, starting December 1

Since there won’t be enough planes to hold up daily rotations during the first weeks, the airline will switch between their shiny new toys and their regular Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft during the early months. In order to stay true to booked cabin classes, they plan to use exclusively planes with retro-fitted cabins. That means the A380s and 777s in question also feature the new premium economy and business class cabin. The airline intends to have at least 42 aircraft with the new cabin interior by the end of this year.

Etihad Announces New Interline Agreements with Jeju Air, Sky express and More

130 kilometers down highway E11, Etihad Airways went into the weekend after securing and announcing five new airline partnerships across three continents. Since Etihad is not a part of any global aviation alliance, these cooperations are vital to Etihad: it’s the only way the carrier can sell tickets beyond its own network. All five new partnerships are interline agreements, opening the opportunity to sell tickets across networks and check luggage for the entire journey. The list of Etihad’s new partners are:

  • Kam Air (Afghanistan): Kam Air runs one daily flight from Eithad’s hub Abu Dhabi to Afghan capital Kabul, using a Boeing 737-500. People can now connect from or to the war ridden country.
  • Jeju Air (South Korea): Jeju Air is Etihad’s largest new partner when it comes to seat capacity. The carrier operates 38 Boeing 737-800 and allows passengers arriving from Abu Dhabi to connect in Seoul Incheon, one of Jeju Air’s three hubs. New destinations include cities on the Chinese coast like Qingdao, smaller Japanese destinations like Naha and, of course, a bunch of South Korean airports.
  • Sky express (Greece): With 11 Airbus A320 family planes and 12 ATR turboprops, Sky Express operates out of Athens’s international airport. An airfield that also receives twice-daily service from an Eithad A320. New connections with those flights are possible to plenty of Greek’s Aegean islands and Thessaloniki. While Sky Express also offers flights to Western Europe, all destinations in question also receive service from Eithad directly.
  • Rex Airlines (Australia): Rex is an abbreviation that stands for Regional Express, describing the function of the carrier exceptionally well. With a fleet of more than 50 Saab 340 turboprop aircraft, the airline connects Australia’s many regional airports with one another, but also to the larger hubs in Melbourne or Sydney. From these airports, Etihad passengers can now connect to Australia’s other major cities like Adelaide or Brisbane or regional airports like Hobart in Tasmania.
  • Myanmar Airways International: This is the most complicated addition to Eithad’s list of partners. The Gulf carrier does not serve Myanmar, and neither does MAI fly to Abu Dhabi. New options to connect are taking an Etihad flight to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and continuing on a Myanmar Airways International A320 to either Mandalay or Yangon.

While none of the new partnerships are super-exciting, it means a vast increase of destinations available on The five airlines mentioned above join a pretty prominent list of interline and code share partners that includes, but is not limited to, acclaimed carriers like Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Saudia or SriLankan. You can find a full list of Eithad’s code share partners here.

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