Emirates chief downplays Etihad Airways merger talk

Chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed says airlines can cooperate without needing to merge
Emirates chairman and CEO, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
By Shayan Shakeel
Wed 09 May 2018 02:41 PM

Emirates chairman and CEO, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, said on Wednesday that a merger with UAE rival Etihad Airways has never been discussed "in any way shape or form” but that carriers could share facilities and services.

The UAE’s two biggest airlines are in no talks concerning any purported mergers but are looking at ways to maximise cooperation with each other, Sheikh Ahmed said at a press conference.

“A merger has never been discussed by the ownership in any way shape or form,” he said but added that there are other ways both airlines can extend cooperation with each other.

“A merger is easier said than done, and right now we are of the opinion that competition is good. However there are ways we can work more closely by using each other’s facilities and services," he told reporters.

Etihad under former CEO James Hogan had unveiled a plan in 2017 to explore a closer relationship with German carrier Lufthansa. Initial agreements signed between the two carrier’s included a catering, maintenance and ground handling agreement with Lufthansa’s respective divisions in Munich.

Sheikh Ahmed highlighted that a cooperation could emerge between the Dubai-based carrier and the UAE’s national airline in terms of ground handling.

“Dnata right now operates across the world, including in cities Etihad flies to,” he said. “That is something we can explore.”

He was speaking after Emirates Group posted a profit of AED4.1 billion ($1.1 billion) for the financial year ended March 31, up 67 percent from last year.

The Group’s revenue reached AED102.4 billion, an increase of 8 percent over last year’s results, and the Group’s cash balance increased by 33 percent to AED25.4 billion supported by the bond issued in March and strong sales due to the early Easter holidays at the end of March.

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