Emirates is said to explore Etihad deal to forge biggest airline

The talks would see Emirates acquire the main airline business of Etihad

The talks would see Emirates acquire the main airline business of Etihad

Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l) and Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi Int'l) have both denied a report by Bloomberg published earlier on September 20 reporting that the former carrier was looking at acquiring the Abu Dhabi-based rival.

According to a Reuters report, source close to Etihad said that a merger could possibly happen in future but that the Emirati rulers were opposed to giving up control over the flagship carrier.

An airline spokesperson told Business Insider that there was "no truth to this rumour".

However, Emirates quickly denied the report.

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That contributed to a $1.52 billion loss in 2017, taking the two-year deficit at the airline unit to nearly $3.5 billion. However, Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said in May there were no merger talks.

In contrast, loss-making Etihad built up a global network of partner airlines in which it invested; that strategy ran into trouble when two of the partners, Alitalia and Air Berlin, became insolvent. "I'm just a manager and if the shareholder says, 'You will do this, ' of course we'll do it". The negotiations could yet fall through, they said.

Emirates, which has built the world's biggest fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos, supplemented by smaller Boeing 777 wide-bodies, is already far larger than Etihad, yet handing the Abu Dhabi company responsibility for certain markets might jeopardize its own success.

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