Emirates and Malaysia Airlines Announce Partnership

A troubled Malaysia Airlines has announced a new partnership with Emirates. Under the new agreement, which comes into effect in 2016, Emirates Skywards and Malaysia Airlines Enrich members will enjoy reciprocal benefits when flying on either airline. This includes the ability to earn and redeem points for each airlines’ flights. Malaysia Airlines will also codeshare on Emirates flights to Europe, while Emirates will place its code on some Malaysian flights within Asia.

Although full detail about the new partnership between the Skywards and Enrich programs remains to be seen, the news is particularly exciting for Emirates Skywards members. As Emirates is not a member of any global airline alliance, opportunities to earn and use points can be limited. Malaysia Airlines will provide another option for redeeming Skywards miles, and award availability on Malaysian is generally high.

But it’s not all good news. Malaysia Airlines has already cut many of its European routes, and as a result of the Emirates agreement it will stop flying its own aircraft to all remaining European destinations except London. Passengers will instead need to travel to Dubai, connecting to an Emirates service. This effectively results in a loss of direct services between Malaysia and Europe. However, Emirates’ extensive route network does now give Malaysian flyers access to many more destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa with just one stop in Dubai.

Some members notice similarities to the Qantas tie-up with Emirates, which began in 2013. Qantas shifted its European hub to Dubai and, like Malaysia Airlines, ceased flights to all European destinations except London. The strategy of tapping into Emirates’ network seems, on the whole, to have been successful for Qantas. Loyal Malaysia Airlines customers will no doubt be hoping for a similar result.

Not surprising. Like QF … If you can’t beat them, join them.

Meanwhile, some members speculate that a tie-up with British Airways would have been a more logical choice for Malaysia Airlines.

I can’t quite see the full rationale for the tie-up with EK. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to pursue a code-share agreement with BA for various European destinations out of LHR since they are desperate to try and fill up their twice-daily A380 services there? A code-share arrangement with EK makes more sense for destinations in the US east coast and Africa.

Malaysia Airlines has been in financial trouble for some time. Services to both Australia and Europe have already been reduced. Time will tell if the recent changes will turn the airline’s fortunes around.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]