Etihad on a roll picking up stakes in other airlines

Courtesy Etihad Airways

Courtesy Etihad Airways


IN October last year, ailing Alitalia sent out signals of an impending bankruptcy and needed help. Then rumours were rife that Air France-KLM – already the biggest shareholder of the beleaguered airline – might double its 25-per-cent stake, to gain greater access to the Italian market. But Air France-KLM was concerned about Alitalia’s debt. (See It’s the age of mega carriers: Will Air France-KLM raise its stake in ailing Alitalia? Oct 14, 2013)

Waiting at the sideline was cash-rich Middle East carrier Etihad Airways, which did not have to wait long to make the kill. Jointly with Alitalia, it announced they were close to an agreement for the Middle East carrier to own up to 40 per cent of the Italian airline. This would make Etihad a leading player among its rivals in the European market.

Alitalia chief executive Gabriele Del Torchio referred to the agreement as “an important step in creating a solid and competitive Alitalia.”

In fact, the focus is not Alitalia but Etihad. That probably explains how Air France-KLM baulked at pumping more money into the ailing airline, focusing on its debt, and paved the way for Etihad to add yet another acquisition to boost its global network. It already has stakes in Virgin Australia, Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus and Air Serbia. Only recently did it take up a 24-per-cent stake in India’s Jet Airways, giving it inroads to the growing Indian domestic market.

Whose next, one might ask.

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About Dingzi
Writer by passion, with professional expertise in aviation, customer service and creative writing. Aviation veteran, author, editor and management consultant. Besides commentary on business issues and life-interest topics, travel stories and book reviews, genres include fiction, poetry and plays. Nature lover who abhors cruelty of any form to animals, and a tireless traveler. Above all, a dreamer.

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