In an interview with The National newspaper, the CEO said despite the sale of its Darwin Airline (F7, Lugano) unit and the entry into bankruptcy of Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino) and Air Berlin (AB, Berlin Tegel) this year, Etihad has no plans to exit any of its other existing partnerships, citing the codeshare with India’s Jet Airways (9W, Mumbai Int’l) as a particular success.
“From a shareholder perspective, Alitalia and Air Berlin have not been unimportant, but let’s not forget we have over 50 codeshare partners, many of whose commercial operations benefit Etihad,” he said. “We have always been a business that has been built on partnerships, so there is life beyond Air Berlin and Alitalia.”
Baumgartner’s comments come on the back of rumours in the Serbian press of Etihad’s impending withdrawal from Air Serbia (JU, Belgrade) given the Serb carrier’s lacklustre financial performance of recent.
For its part, Etihad has undergone restructuring in the wake of a USD1.87 billion loss for 2016 exacerbated by a one-off impairment on aircraft and equity investments in Alitalia and Air Berlin.
In light of an increasingly difficult intercontinental market, the CEO said Etihad was now looking to focus on developing its point-to-point market over transfer traffic to Abu Dhabi Int’l given the former’s higher yields and added benefit to the local tourism economy.