Speaking to The Middle East Online today an industry spokesman confirmed that rumours of a merger between the UAE's world class aviation giants, Etihad, based in Abu Dhabi and Emirates, based in Dubai, are rife. "Both airlines have worked hard to achieve their positions at the forefront of the global aviation industry and I think both are to be applauded for their individual achievements. However, the industry is a changing one; budget carriers have taken a large chunk of the business that would once have gone to the national carriers and continue to represent a threat to growth. I am certain the two airlines would prefer to maintain their separate identities but, given what they have achieved operating as separate entities, I think any merger between them would result in something quite special and unique in the world of aviation."
The ruling familes of the United Arab Emirates, which control the Emirates and Etihad airlines, have held talks about possibly merging the two airlines, according to Handelsblatt quoting several well placed sources.
The Gulf carriers are experiencing turbulent times after years of growth and expansion: both are struggling with falling profits and a changing industry. The possibility of consolidating the two state-owned carriers would not be easy, and require a huge amount of effort, but is clearly not out of the question anymore.
Etihad has in the past said it is not even considering scenarios that would include a closer association, let alone a merger, with Emirates. The airline said that there are currently no talks between the two companies, while Emirates did not respond to a request for comment by Handelsblatt.
But, say Handelsblatt, there is change in the air. The Gulf states have three big airlines: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways. All three have experienced...