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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.
In a fast changing alliance scene, partnerships will be a focal point, as Emirates courts American Airlines, which currently partners with Etihad, but whose oneworld alliance is welcoming Qatar Airways. Etihad has a sizeable presence on American’s network, but American has few codes on Etihad, making the relationship more one-sided than the two-way Etihad prefers. With Etihad looking for a larger strategic footprint, it may be looking for a new US partner if American cannot deliver.