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Will the Gulf’s flying gentry consider venturing below stairs?

The arrival of Emirates at Stansted, a hub for Ryanair, sets up some potentially interesting options as the luxury and budget ends of air travel respond to the shared experience of tougher competition.
While Etihad’s ill-fated codeshare alliance strategy failed to deliver on its ambitious hopes following the collapse of both Air Berlin and Alitalia, there is still considerable interest in codeshare combinations between big global carriers and their low-cost cousins serving regions from Europe to Asia — and that do not require vast investments.
There has been no hint from either Emirates or Ryanair of any desire for future collaboration, but Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has long held the belief that carriers such as his would eventually provide the spokes to the hub model.
“The low-fare airlines will be doing most of the feed for the flag carriers,” he told Bloomberg in a 2015 interview. He saw it as taking between five and 10 years for that to happen.
A similar process has already started in the Gulf with the tie-up between Emirates and sister low-cost carrier flydubai.
Last week easyjet’s Europe managing director also told a German newspaper that it had received “very many inquiries” from other airlines wanting to use his airline as their feeder.
The last year has seen upstart low-cost carriers from Norwegian Air to Wizz Air make encroachments into the long-haul market.
It all makes for an interesting global aviation market in 2018 which may see carriers with very different operating models and passenger expectations becoming unlikely bedfellows.

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