Emirates gets on track with French rail deal

Emirates said on Thursday it struck a codeshare agreement with France’s national railway operator that will allow passengers to connect to 19 French cities including the regions of Bordeaux and Provence without the hassle of booking separately.

SNCF, famous for its high-speed TGV network, carries some 100 million passengers a year.

It has codeshares with a number of international airlines including Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways,

“This codeshare agreement with SNCF opens up new possibilities for our passengers and complements our current services to Paris, Lyon and Nice. With TGV Air, travelling to the Far East from Bordeaux, or to Strasbourg from Dubai has never been easier,” said Thierry Antinori, Emirates’ executive vice president and chief commercial officer.

Emirates ferries more than 1.2 million passengers to and from France each year on its A380 aircraft to Paris Charles de Gaulle.

The financial arrangement between the two companies regarding the tie up was not disclosed.

Emirates said on Thursday that customers will be able to use the train codeshare service and that the first and business class passengers looking to travel further than Paris with SNCF would automatically be booked first class on the train. (The ticket can however be downgraded to economy).

“Emirates is diversifying it’s travel connection options for passengers and with Europe a key stronghold for the carrier, it makes sense that the airline has new agreements with SNCF to more French cities by rail,” said Saj Ahmad, the UK-based chief analyst at StrategicAero Research. “It’s certainly one of the first, if not the first major such air-rail deal in recent years and Emirates’ innovative approach to expanding its organic growth this way will make its competitors sit up and take note.”

Dubai’s flag carrier, which is also the largest operator of A380, said last month that its annual net profit rose 40 per cent. The airline said it had a net profit of Dh4.6 billion for the financial year ended March 31, helped by a drop in oil prices in the second half of the year.


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