Etihad And Qatar Airways Enter New Territory

By Cathy Buyck, Jens Flottau
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
January 27, 2014

The “Big Three” Persian Gulf carriers—Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways—are increasingly heading in different directions and distinguishing their strategies. Etihad has created the first part of its “Etihad Regional” system; Qatar is venturing into Saudi Arabia with a new affiliate airline, while Emirates remains a purely widebody hub-and-spoke carrier.

To extend its footprint quickly, Etihad has picked up minority stakes in Virgin Australia, Air Berlin, Jet Airways and Air Seychelles; it may soon add a stake in Alitalia, too. But its latest idea is Etihad Regional, following a deal to acquire a 33.3% share in Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline for an undisclosed sum, although it has not yet been cleared by regulatory authorities. Even with the Etihad stake, Darwin would be majority-controlled by Swiss nationals, as Etihad Chief Commercial Officer Peter Baumgartner is a Swiss national and will sit on the Darwin board. Etihad is hoping to finalize the purchase in the coming weeks.

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