Emirates’ Clark reiterates opposition to big alliances

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Emirates will continue to remain independent of the big three global airline alliances, despite the recent announcement of a wide ranging partnership Qantas Airways and disclosure of codeshare talks with American Airlines.

Tim Clark, president and chairman of the Dubai-based carrier, says that the airline will maintain its philosophy to not join the Oneworld, SkyTeam or Star alliances but will continue to pursue bilateral codeshare agreements around the world, in a speech to the International Aviation Club of Washington DC today.

Emirates announced on 6 September a 10-year bilateral partnership with Qantas that will see the Australian carrier move its hub for European flights to Dubai from Singapore. Clark also told Flightglobal that the airline is in codeshare talks with American on 12 September.

"[Market] distortions come from some immunised joint venture alliances," says Clark. "It is our view that major alliances do not always - and in some cases they do - operate in the interest of the travelling public having found very cosy nests in their respective hubs."

He adds that Emirates would not have been able to launch its new Dubai to Washington Dulles flight if it were in the Star or SkyTeam alliances. "Were we a member of Star, I'm confident that there would be no Emirates flight to Dulles," says Clark. "Star leadership in Frankfurt and Chicago would have vetoed the plans. It is of course in the best interest of the Star alliance to route passengers between Washington and India, for example, through its hubs in Europe."

"The same would be true if were part of SkyTeam, where the focus would be on feeding traffic through Delta's hubs in Atlanta, Detroit and New York, and protecting its own nonstop service to Dubai," he adds.

In response to an audience question, Clark says that he did not mention Oneworld because the alliance did not fit the context of the situation.

Both Qantas and American are members of Oneworld.

In the USA, Emirates has a codeshare with JetBlue Airways and interline agreements with Alaska Airlines and American.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), attended Clark's speech today. IAG is the parent of Oneworld members British Airways and Iberia.