UAE: Etihad refreshes freight network to concentrate on core trade lanes

Etihad Airways Airbus A320-200 plane is seen at the National Airport Minsk Belarus and an Emirates Airbus A380-800 plane is seen at Nice International Airport in Nice France

The maintenance arm Etihad Airways Engineering was to be excluded from the merger.

Yesterday, Bloomberg reported the news that Emirates and Etihad Airways could be in talks over a possible merger which would ultimately create the world's largest airline.

But what are the chances of Emirates and Etihad becoming one mega airline?

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

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

This means redeploying freighter capacity on core trade lanes that connect its hub in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and select global markets in Asia, Europe and the United States to meet growing customer demand.

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Both airlines, which grew rapidly earlier this decade, have faced financial pressures in the past two years because of tough competition in the industry and a regional economic slowdown due to low oil prices. Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum last ruled out a merger as recently as May 2018.

Dublin Int'l and Abu Dhabi Int'l airports are 116 kilometres apart.

A senior banker monitoring business in the Gulf said the idea of an Emirates-Etihad merger had been circulating "on and off for at least five years", but that he hadn't heard of any new development.

Etihad is in rebuilding mode after an aggressive global expansion strategy with heavy investments in several struggling worldwide airlines left the carrier exposed financially. Emirates is far larger than Etihad. Dubai is developing a new airport that will one day be able to handle around 200 million passengers a year and replace Dubai International, now the world's busiest airport for international passenger traffic, as Emirates' hub. Douglas has also been negotiating with Airbus SE and Boeing Co. after concluding that doubling the fleet is no longer viable, calling into question scores of wide-body jet orders.

"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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