Competing Middle East carriers consider “working more closely” on procurement and other business ideas.
Middle East carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways are beginning discussions on a plan to work together, leading to speculation of a merge that neither has outright denied. Reuters reports that the two airlines confirmed the discussions on Wednesday, October 11, 2017.
While Emirates is owned by the Government of Dubai and Etihad by the Government of Abu Dhabi, the two carriers share many things in common. Among them is a global network aboard modern aircraft, as well as a mutual frustration with the legacy American carriers – with whom they have been feuding over alleged subsidies since 2015.
“There are many areas that the airlines could work together on like procurement,” Emirates president Sir Tim Clark told Reuters. “But we have to go the first jump first to understand what it is we could do and I‘m simply the manager of one of the businesses.”
But could the two luxury carriers merge? After the partial collapse of Etihad Airways Partners with the bankruptcy of Air Berlin and financial struggles of Alitalia, Clark did not rule out the possibility.
“I don’t think that will be the case but it is not my call, really,” Clark told Reuters. “It is whatever (the shareholders) may do in the future.”
When asked a similar question by the news organization, a spokesperson for Etihad did not directly address rumors of an airline mega-merger. Instead, the airline stated they looked forward to the opportunity to work with one of their neighbors.
“We constantly seek opportunities for innovative collaboration with other organizations, where it makes business and commercial sense,” a spokesperson for Etihad emailed in a statement to Reuters.