Five airlines based in the Middle East and North Africa are establishing a regional marketing alliance aimed at boosting each other's traffic by providing intercontinental connections between their route networks.

The move emerged from an executive committee meeting of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) in Beirut earlier this month. AACO secretary-general Abdul Wahab Teffaha says that the chief executives of EgyptAir, Middle East Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian and Saudi Arabian Airlines, who comprise the committee and "the nucleus of this alliance", have invited the AACO's 15 other member airlines to join the partnership.

The five airlines will meet next month "to identify the technicalities". A pilot project is planned, based on routes selected between the region and destinations in Asia and Africa. The alliance will be based on "cross-feeding on long- and medium-haul routes that are covered by some members and not by others", says AACO. For example, services from Arab countries to international airports such as Dubai or Cairo could be timed to provide convenient connections for onward travel.

The AACO executive committee is planning to open talks with the major airline alliances to explore areas of potential mutual advantage and co-operation.

• Commercial flights into and out of Gaza International Airport, in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip, were halted on 7 October following the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Flights to Gaza are being diverted to El-Arish, across the border in Egypt. The main operator in Gaza is Palestinian Airlines, which flies two Fokker 50s, one Boeing 727, and holds orders for two CRJs and two Bombardier Dash 8s.

Source: Flight International