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The airlines are currently cozying up to American for access to popular U.S. routes, a move that could prove even more profitable for its primary partner should an US Airways merger occur.
Gulf airlines will follow up their aggressive 2012 expansion into the US with a number of major new routes in 2013. Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways have both confirmed that they plan to add new US destinations in 2013 and Emirates will most probably join them, as it continues to fill out an already substantial US route network.
According to Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) data, just 2.4% of the organisation’s airlines’ available seats are operated to/from the Americas. That compares with 31.3% of seats into Europe, 18% into Asia and 8.8% into Australasia. However, for the ‘Big Three’ of Gulf aviation, the lucrative markets in the Americas are taking on increasing importance.
And one thing is certain. The momentum of the Gulf airlines is sufficient now that this US invasion will further shift the global alliance balance.