By Neil Halligan
Media in Malta claimed that a deal for the Abu Dhabi airline to take a substantial equity stake in Air Malta was “imminent”
Etihad Airways has denied the latest reports linking it with a possible equity stake investment in Air Malta.
Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat told local reporters this week that Air Malta was in discussions with Etihad Airways over a possible strategic alliance between the two airlines, which would involve the Abu Dhabi carrier buying a substantial stake in the Maltese national carrier.
"No deal has been wrapped up, but talks are ongoing. Government will announce any deal as soon as it is completed," Muscat told reporters in Malta.
The Times of Malta, quoting a senior government official, said that a deal between the two airlines was “imminent”.
“Negotiations led by the government and the airline’s chair Maria Micallef have been concluded and an official agreement is now imminent,” a senior government official told the newspaper.
“In order to facilitate discussions with the unions, the deal struck will be rolled out in two phases. First a preliminary agreement (MOU) will be signed followed by a formal one as soon as unions give their green light to the deal,” he added.
Etihad Airways, however, has strongly denied the report, which first surfaced in November last year.
“Latest reports in the Maltese media stating that a stake of Air Malta will be sold by the Maltese government to Etihad Airways, are categorically untrue,” said an Etihad Airways spokesperson.
“Etihad Airways reiterates there is no foundation, nor substance, in such stories that have been circulating for several months.”For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
There was an article iwhere the Prime Minister officially clarified that he had not concluded any deals with Etihad Airways, it must have been a misunderstanding.