Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has announced a partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) covering commercial cooperation in areas including cargo, engineering and route codesharing.
The deal comes after Emirates and Etihad denied reports that they were in merger talks last month as the latter undergoes a restructuring.
Under the terms, Etihad will place its code on Saudia flights to Abha, Al-Baha, Alula, Arar, Bisha, Dammam, Dawadmi, Gassim, Gizan, Gurayat, Hail, Hofuf, Jeddah, Jouf, Madinah, Qaisumah, Rafha, Riyadh, Sharurah, Tabuk, Taif, Turaif, Wadi-Ad-Dawasir, Wedjh, Yanbo, and Abu Dhabi.
Further additions of, Port Sudan, Tunis, Alexandria, Sharm el-Sheikh, Multan and Peshawar are subject to government approval.
In return, Saudia will codeshare on Etihad flights to Baku, Chengdu, Ahmedabad, Nagoya, Tokyo-Narita, Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah, Riyadh, Belgrade, Seychelles, Chicago-O’Hare, and Abu Dhabi.
Etihad said the two airlines were also finalising discussions to see members of their frequent flier programmes offered reciprocal benefits and exploring cargo cooperation between the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the airline said it would provide select maintenance services for Saudia aircraft at its facility in Abu Dhabi.
“The partnership will allow for enhanced seamless travel across the Etihad Airways and Saudia networks which we anticipate will be highly popular with business and leisure travellers, especially those looking to fly to secondary city destinations,” said Etihad Group CEO Tony Douglas.
Etihad said it carried 1.3 million passengers and more than 28,000 tonnes of cargo between the UAE and Saudi last year.
It currently flies daily to Madinah, four times a day to Dammam, three times a day to Jeddah and three times a day to Riyadh.
Etihad said in July it would cut staff under a restructuring plan after posting a $1.52bn loss for 2017.
It previously announced a similar partnership with Germany’s Lufthansa in February 2017 covering codeshare flights, catering and engineering.