Next month will see the formal launch of Arabesk, a network of eight Arab and North African airlines aiming to pool their efforts to be more efficient. To this end, they will coordinate schedules to avoid costly duplication, reducing expenses by joint buying of aircraft, equipment, fuel, food and insurance, as well as managing supplies of spares and parts. The Arabesk partnership comprises Egyptair, Gulf Air, Middle East Airlines, Oman Air, Royal Jordanian, Saudi Arabian Airlines, TunisAir and Yemen Airways.
The arrangement should also permit the establishment of many more code-share arrangements between member airlines, which all belong to the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) that will hold its annual general meeting next week in Yemen. Arabesk is not to be confused with a global airline alliance, which its members will be free to join. For example, Royal Jordanian was recently accepted for membership in oneworld.
The established alliances previously have resisted any temptation to gather Arab operators under their wings, if only because they were not perceived as being able to bring much to the party. Combined, the more than 20 AACO members account for a very small percentage of world scheduled airline traffic.
Arabesk is expected to de-politicize Arab aviation to some extent to provide a forum whereby airlines may confer and agree at an operational level. For example, following earlier AACO initiatives, the partnership will make use of templates that will form the bases for, say, code-share agreements that therefore do not need to be generated from scratch.