July 17 (UPI) -- Emirates and FlyDubai, airlines owned by the Dubai government, announced a partnership Monday offering customers better access to each other's networks.
While not a consolidation, the regional carrier FlyDubai and international carrier Emirates will coordinate flights and feed passengers to each other's flights. The partnership will increase the number of emirates' destinations from 157 to 216, and will begin in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The union is an indication of problems that Gulf-area carriers are attempting to solve. Emirates' profits fell 70 percent in the year ending on March 31; economies in the Gulf region slowed, demand for seats aboard flights declined due to terrorist attacks and the airline contended with travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. government. Competition from European and Asian long-haul carriers remains a possibility.
The agreement to merge the networks, brokered by the Dubai government, comes with complications of its own. Emirates has 259 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 wide-body jets.
FlyDubai uses 95 smaller Boeing 737s, with no provisions yet for passenger transfer to other carriers, including Emirates.