Emirates and Barclays team up to court US-based frequent flyers
Dubai-based airline unveils co-branded credit cards as it looks to boost revenue with new income streams
Emirates and Barclays have partnered to push out co-branded credit cards, marking the first move by the Dubai-based carrier into the space in the US.
US-based members of Emirates' Skywards frequent flyer programme will be able to earn miles on travel and lifestyle purchases.
“This is a unique opportunity allowing our more than 2.5 million US members to boost their Skywards miles to use as a payment option with cash plus miles and for flight upgrades while travelling from cities across the US, including New York, Houston and Los Angeles,” divisional senior vice president Dr. Nejib Ben Khedher said in a statement.
Emirates Skywards, the loyalty programme of Emirates and flydubai, has 2.5 million US-based members and 27 million globally, Mr Ben Khedher added.
The new credit cards could offer a reasonable source of income to Emirates as it waits for the travel industry to bounce back, said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst with StrategicAero Research.
"Given how the entire airline industry the world over has been absolutely battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, any avenues that allow revenue generation is going to be welcomed, given that passenger traffic is unlikely to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels for at least a half decade or more,” Mr Ahmad told The National.
Airlines around the world face a collective loss of $84 billion (Dh308bn) this year as the pandemic halves revenue in the worst year of aviation history, according to the International Air Transport Association. Global passenger traffic is unlikely to recover to pre-crisis levels before 2024, according to Iata.
Any avenues that allow revenue generation is going to be welcomed, given that passenger traffic is unlikely to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels for at least a half decade or more
Saj Ahmad, StrategicAero Research
Last week, Emirates said it has paid more than Dh5bn in refunds since March after the Covid-19 pandemic forced passengers to scrap their travel plans as flights were grounded.
“By partnering with Barclays to allow Skywards members to accrue points on a co-branded credit card, Emirates hopes not only to curry favour with those who spend money with the prospect of a [flight] reward, but it also allows the airline to generate additional income,” Mr Ahmad added.
There are two versions of the credit card: the Emirates Skywards Rewards card, which offers silver-tier membership status and has an annual fee of $99, and the Emirates Skywards Premium card, which gives cardholders gold-tier membership status and has an annual fee of $499.
Both cards earn three miles per dollar spent with Emirates, two miles per dollar spent on other travel expenses such as airfares, hotel stays and car rentals, and one mile per dollar on everything else, including groceries, retail stores and entertainment.
The cards also offer frequent flyers other perks such as sign-up bonuses of up to 40,000 points after meeting spending requirements, lounge access, priority check-in and boarding, and priority baggage delivery.
“Our partnership with Emirates Skywards is focused on growing loyalty with US-based customers by helping them earn more Emirates Skywards privileges through their everyday spend,” said Bob Highland, head of US cards and partnerships at Barclays.
Updated: September 15, 2020 01:44 PM