Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways is in the “final stages” of talks with plane manufacturers Boeing and Airbus and is aiming to leverage the combined purchasing power of its six equity partners to negotiate a lucrative long-term order for the group.
The seven carriers are looking at a substantial order which would take care of their aircraft needs to at least 2040, Etihad CEO James Hogan said.
The Abu Dhabi carrier currently has equity stakes in six airlines, including Germany’s Air Berlin (29.21 percent), Air Seychelles (40 percent), Virgin Australia (10.5 percent), Ireland’s Aer Lingus (2.99 percent), Air Serbia (49 percent) and India’s Jet Airways (24 percent).
Combined the group currently has a global fleet of more than 500 aircraft, which is considerably more than the 197 owned by Emirates Airlines, the 139 owned by Singapore Airlines and IAG’s 377 aircraft.
“The way we’ve constructed the deal is a group deal, so the group can take advantage of it,” Hogan said. “In the past, Boeing and Airbus would never have done that.”
The discussions with the two major plane makers will take another two to six weeks to complete, Hogan said.
Analysts at CAPA – Centre for Aviation & Innovation said the move “could provide some of the carriers that Etihad has invested in an economy of scale that otherwise would be unobtainable.”
Etihad’s airline partners already coordinate on a number of fronts, such as joint deals on seats, in-flight entertainment systems, engines and maintenance. The three carriers will also share a simulator in Abu Dhabi and pool rotables and components, CAPA said.
A joint deal is likely to involve Boeing’s Dreamliner 787 aircraft, CAPA said. Air Berlin currently has 15 787s on order, Jet has ten and Etihad is due to receive 41 aircraft, with deliveries starting in late 2014.