Emirates and Etihad airlines deny merger

The UAE's main carriers say they have no intention of merging the two businesses. AP

Emirates and Etihad - on Thursday, 20 September, denied a Bloomberg report that suggested that the two will merge to create the world's largest carrier.

Contacted by AFP, Emirates and Etihad denied the report, with spokespeople for both airlines saying there was no truth to the "rumour".

For Abu Dhabi, which sits on 6 percent of global oil reserves, it would advance a drive to overhaul state-controlled entities as it adapts to lower crude prices. The company announced losses of $1.87 billion a year ago, linked to its partial purchase of Alitalia.

Any deal would require the blessing of the rulers of the two UAE emirates.

That contributed to a $1.52 billion loss in 2017, taking the two-year deficit at the airline unit to nearly $3.5 billion.

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Dublin Int'l and Abu Dhabi Int'l airports are 116 kilometres apart. No bank has been mandated to arrange a deal, which would be very hard operationally, he added.

In contrast, loss-making Etihad built up a global network of partner airlines in which it invested; that strategy ran into trouble when two of the partners, Alitalia and Air Berlin, became insolvent. Now Etihad is shrinking operations in an effort to become a profitable mid-sized carrier. Emirates is far larger than Etihad. Emirates also owns the world's biggest fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos, according to Bloomberg.

Bringing the airlines together would not be easy because of the duplication of routes from their Dubai and Abu Dhabi bases.

"Etihad Cargo continues to cement its position as a major player in the worldwide air cargo market, leveraging Abu Dhabi's strategic positioning at the centre of the world's busiest trade lanes to serve these key markets".

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