airberlin Agrees Etihad Partnership

ETIHAD AIRWAYS of Abu Dhabi has signed a strategic partnership with airberlin and has increased its stake in the German low-cost carrier to 29.91%.  The agreement makes Etihad the largest single shareholder, while the alliance brings the combined network to 239 destinations across 77 countries.  The UAE airline will also provide airberlin with a five-year financing facility of up to $255 million to support fleet development and network growth.
Air Berlin CEO Hartmut Mehdorn commented: “The strategic partnership with Etihad Airways opens up enormous opportunities for the future of our company.  This applies especially to future market development and the realisation of synergies.
“One of the key components of the new partnership is the launch of our services to Abu Dhabi, which will become our new gateway to Asia and Australia.  The agreement will also dramatically improve the global connectivity of our customers in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and throughout the Gulf and Middle East.”
Etihad Airways’ CEO James Hogan added that the deal was one of the most important in the carrier’s history: “This new partnership expands our network reach, gives us access to 33 million new passengers, and provides us with a real opportunity for global growth.  Through airberlin, we gain immediate access to a broad and complementary European market.  Our partnership strategy has been integral to our success over the past eight years, and the returns we have seen from this strategy have confirmed its value.”
airberlin and Etihad will carry a combined total of more than 40 million passengers each year using a fleet of 233 aircraft.  The partnership will lead to the German carrier launching a four-times weekly Airbus A330-200 service linking Berlin with Abu Dhabi.  Both operators have also announced extensive code-share agreements – Etihad will share on 36 of German carrier’s 171 destinations, while the Air Berlin flight code will feature on 24 of the Abu Dhabi airline’s services.  This arrangement will also be extended across other members of the Air Berlin group including Austrian airline Niki, and Belair of Switzerland.