There’s been a lot of talk this year about how Emirates Airline may come to the rescue of struggling Etihad Airways and potentially merge the two airlines into the one (Emirates) brand, given their two global hubs are geographically so close together.

That is because both airlines are part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are seven Emirates, with Abu Dhabi and Dubai being two of them.

Flydubai, the low cost airline of Dubai, is also based in the Dubai Emirate, and is working increasingly closely with Emirates.

Another low cost airline within the UAE is Air Arabia, which is based in another of the seven Emirates, Sharjah.

The UAE celebrated their National Day on Sunday. It was a special celebration this year because it was 100 years since the birth of Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is credited with founding the UAE. Sheik Zayed passed away in 2004.

You may have seen special ‘Year of Zayed’ liveries on both Emirates and Etihad aircraft this year.

Emirates 100th A380 with special Year of Zayed livery (Source:

To celebrate this momentous occasion, the four airlines of the UAE (Emirates, Etihad, Flydubai and Air Arabia) came together to perform a flyover, in formation, over the UAE, leaving from Dubai World Central airport.

Emirates and Etihad both flew A380s with the special Year of Zayed livery — here is a video:

As you can see, Flydubai and Air Arabia flew smaller aircraft, as they do not operate any wide body planes, though all four planes were decorated with Year of Zayed liveries. Each aircraft adopted a special Zayed 1 – 4 call sign.

Bottom line

I feel like these airlines coming together to celebrate their common geography could be like a vision of the future where Etihad eventually merges into Emirates.

Despite the two currently being fierce rivals, they are geographically located very close together and belong to the same country.

Do you think Emirates and Etihad will eventually merge?



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