Report: Emirates in talks to buy Etihad

Bloomberg is reporting that Emirates is in talks to buy loss-making airline Etihad. A deal could substantially increase Emirates’ presence at Heathrow.

London Air Travel » Abu Dhabi

Emirates Airbus A380 Heathrow
Emirates Airbus A380 Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

The financial woes of Etihad have been well documented.

It pursued what can only be described as an absolutely disastrous strategy of acquiring minority stakes in troubled European airlines that haemorrhaged cash. It has been heavily loss making, having reported a loss before exceptional items of USD$ 1.52 billion for 2017.

Etihad has abandoned its strategy of pursuing aggressive growth. It has been cutting routes such as Dallas Fort Worth, Entebbe, Jaipur, San Francisco, Tehran, and Venice.

It has also been reviewing its expansive aircraft order book which has included 21 Boeing 787-9, 30 Boeing 787-10, 25 Boeing 777X and 62 Airbus A350 wide body aircraft. It had also been seconding pilots to Emirates.

Bloomberg has reported today, Thursday 20 September 2018, that Emirates is in talks to acquire Etihad. It includes an official non-denial denial from Emirates and Etihad spokespersons that neither “comment on speculation”.

There are clear attractions to Emirates in not only eliminating a nearby rival but also having access to its aircraft order book. It could also substantially increase Emirates’ presence in London.

Given the close proximity of Abu Dhabi to Dubai it’s unlikely that Emirates would pursue a “dual hub” strategy (think BA’s unsuccessful dual “hub without the hubbub” strategy at Gatwick in the 1990s) and is likely to be more focused on point-to-point traffic for Abu Dhabi.

Emirates currently operates six Airbus A380 departures from London Heathrow with additional flights from Gatwick and Stansted.

With Etihad having three departures a day from Heathrow to Abu Dhabi and it also owning Alitalia’s slots, which currently operates six daily departures to Italy, a deal could more than double Emirates’ capacity at Heathrow. It goes without saying this would be a major competitive headache for many rival airlines.

Looking further afield, Etihad also owns a stake in Virgin Australia. Given Emirates’ partnership with Qantas, Etihad would have to dispose of its stake in Virgin Australia and its abandon its partnership for competitive reasons.

Air Belgium to operate for BA on London Heathrow – Abu Dhabi

Air Belgium is to operate British Airways’ daily service from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi from 15 September to 4 October 2018.

London Air Travel » Abu Dhabi

Air Belgium Airbus A340 aircraft
Air Belgium Airbus A340 aircraft (Image Credit: Air Belgium)

British Airways is to wet lease an aircraft from Air Belgium to cover its daily flight from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi from mid September to early October 2018.

The outbound flight BA73 from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi will be operated by Air Belgium from Saturday 15 September to Thursday 4 October 2018. As will the inbound flight BA72 from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow from Sunday 16 September to Friday 5 October 2018.

No specific reason has been given for the wet lease. However, given the route is ordinarily operated with a Boeing 787-9 aircraft, it’s a safe assumption that the grounding of these aircraft is the cause. BA has previously wet leased aircraft to cover London Heathrow – Cairo.

The flight will be operated by an Air Belgium A340-300 aircraft. The overall service standard should be similar to that of BA.

Rebooking Options

All passengers have the option of rebooking on to an alternative BA operated service to Abu Dhabi within 7 days before, or after, the wet lease operation.

All passengers also have the option of rebooking on to a BA operated service to Dubai within 3 days before, or after, the wet lease operation. However, any additional costs such as taxis, will be at your own expense.

Full refunds are not available to any passenger, unless allowed by the original fare rules.

First Class Passengers

There is no First Class cabin on Air Belgium aircraft.

Passengers will be downgraded to business class and receive a partial refund of their fare. Passengers will still have a First Class baggage allowance, earn the Avios and Tier Points of the First Class fare, and have access to First Class ground facilities such as the Concorde Room at London Heathrow.

Alternatively, passengers can use the value of their ticket towards the purchase of a new ticket to an alternative destination.

Premium Economy Passengers

There is no premium economy cabin on Air Belgium aircraft.

BA has advised that most premium economy passengers will be downgraded to economy and receive a partial refund of their fare. Passengers will retain their original baggage allowance and Avios earning entitlement. Some passengers may also be upgraded to business class.

Alternatively, passengers can use the value of their ticket towards the purchase of a new ticket to an alternative destination.

Affected passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com

BA to fly non-stop to Doha & Muscat from Sunday 30 October 2016

London Air Travel » Abu Dhabi

British Airways Boeing 787-9 First Class (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Boeing 787-9 First Class (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to introduce direct non-stop flights from London Heathrow to Doha in Qatar and Muscat in Oman from Sunday 30 October 2016.

BA has long served both Doha and Muscat. However, a one hour stop-over in Bahrain for Doha and Abu Dhabi for Muscat has been required, adding approximately two hours each way to the journey time.

BA will now fly daily direct to Doha with a four class Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner. BA will fly five times a week to Muscat with a four class Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Flights are on sale now at ba.com.

Why has BA introduced this change?

Well, it now has more departure and arrival slots at London Heathrow. The flight times are more convenient for passengers. Airlines also prefer not to use long-haul aircraft for short flights for operational reasons.

The one significant change is that flights from London Heathrow to Doha will now arrive in Doha in the morning rather than late at night.

BA codeshares with Qatar Airways, a shareholder in BA’s parent company International Airlines Group, on a number of routes from Doha to Dar es Salaam, Peshawar, Karachi, Entebbe, Dhaka, Islamabad and Lahore. Passengers with existing bookings will need to review their itineraries to see if connections are valid or if accommodation is required in Doha.

It is also worth noting that BA does offer flights between Bahrain and Doha and between Abu Dhabi and Muscat for sale and these will clearly not be available from Sunday 30 October.

Flight schedules to Bahrain and Abu Dhabi have also been adjusted to account for the changes to these routes. All flights will also continue to operate from London Heathrow Terminal 5.
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Etihad to acquire five Heathrow slot pairs from Alitalia

As part of Etihad’s acquisition of a 49% stake in Alitalia, it will also acquire five London Heathrow airport slot pairs and lease these back to Alitalia.

London Air Travel » Abu Dhabi

Alitalia Airbus A320
Alitalia Airbus A320

After a long period of negotiation, Etihad has finally announced a deal to acquire a 49% stake (the maximum allowed under EU ownership rules) in troubled European airline Alitalia.

Full details of the transaction can be viewed here.

Continue reading “Etihad to acquire five Heathrow slot pairs from Alitalia”