Dubai airline Emirates could work with Abu Dhabi rival Etihad in areas like procurement, its president has said.
Speaking to Reuters, Tim Clark indicated a full merger between the two airlines was unlikely but some cooperation was possible.
“I think there is value to be had working more closely with them,” Clark was quoted as saying.
“There are many areas that the airlines could work together on, like procurement. But we have to go the first jump first to understand what it is we could do and I’m simply the manager of one of the businesses. It is my superiors who have to make that call, not me.”
Earlier this year, German business paper Handelsblatt Global cited sources as confirming talks to merge the two airlines had taken place due to the slowing growth and falling profits the two had experienced.
The report was dismissed by Clark as “nonsense” in March but tougher market conditions do appear to have made the Dubai-based carrier more open to partnerships.
It is currently in the first phase of a closer relationship with low cost sister airline Flydubai and is extending a deal with Australian carrier Qantas.
Speaking more broadly of the airline’s plans, Clark said it was considering an order for Airbus 380s to replace 25 aircraft due to retire in the mid 2020s and was also looking at the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 for the 250-300 seat market.
But he insisted there may be no my concrete decision in time for the Dubai Air Show next month.
Clark indicated earlier in October that the airline had seen improving performance since posting an 82 per cent dip in annual profit for 2016.