Etihad Airways is taking a 29.21% stake in the Airberlin group, Europe’s sixth largest airline, becoming Airberlin’s largest single shareholder. The strategic partnership offers a combined global network of 239 destinations across 77 countries.
Airberlin will move its Middle East operation from to and will operate four A330-200 flights a week between Berlin and Abu Dhabi from 15th January 2012.
Etihad Airways will codeshare on 36 of Airberlin’s 171 destinations and Airberlin will codeshare on 24 of Etihad Airways’ 82 passenger destinations. Etihad will also sign codeshare agreements with the Airberlin group for all European activities including the Austrian airline Niki and the Swiss airline Belair.
Announcing the deal in Berlin, Airberlin’s Hartmut Mehdorn also announced the launch of Airberlin 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 GCC and Middle East.”
Etihad Chief Executive James Hogan described the deal as one of the most important in Etihad Airways’ 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, with outstanding connectivity options for customers of both airlines.
“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. We are always looking for ways to grow and partnerships are a smart way to enhance our ability to compete on the world stage.”
Combined, Etihad Airways and the Airberlin group carry more than 40 million passengers a year, operate 233 aircraft, employ 18,000 people, and generate more than US$9 billion in revenues.