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Wed 20 Mar 2019 09:58 AM

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Etihad Airways CEO hits out at 'clownesque' Emirates takeover reports

Etihad Airways and Emirates airline have denied reports by anonymous sources that they are set to merge

Etihad Airways CEO hits out at 'clownesque' Emirates takeover reports
Tony Douglas, CEO of Etihad Airways

The chief executive of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has hit out at what he called “clownesque” and “lazy” media reports that the state-owned airline is considering a takeover bid by Dubai’s Emirates airline.

Bloomberg reported last September that the Dubai airline was looking at taking over its loss-making Abu Dhabi rival, citing four unnamed sources.

While the move would create the world’s biggest carrier by passenger traffic, both airlines swiftly denied the report.

“I often fall about laughing because when Bloomberg run that story, quite frankly it was the laziest piece of Thursday afternoon journalism I’ve ever seen,” Tony Douglas, CEO of Etihad Airways, told Arabian Business last week.

“So, the clown who wrote it was probably no more than a clown as anyone could have wrote the story, quite frankly. But, not surprisingly, as a result of said clown writing said clownesque story, I’ve been asked this question ten thousand times.”

Improvement

The Abu Dhabi airline last week reported it had trimmed its losses from previous highs, amid lower costs and revenues, but higher margins.

The national carrier’s third billion dollar loss in as many years, $1.28 billion, is 15.4 percent lower than losses reported in 2017. While total losses now amount to $4.67 billion over three years, results from 2018 suggest that the airline has lowered losses by around a third.

“Etihad's results, while in the red, are showing a degree of performance improvement in getting closer to the black,” London-based aviation expert Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, told Arabian Business this week.

“For what it’s worth, even if an Emirates-Etihad merger were to happen, Emirates will simply not touch Etihad with a 200ft bargepole while the airline is losing money. Emirates is a financial monster and will not want to be saddled with Etihad's fiscal woes. That said, I do foresee them merging one day – it’s practically inevitable - but right now, it’s off the cards permanently,” he added.

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