Etihad to divide Air Berlin in two?

20 Mar 2014 by Alex McWhirter

Will Air Berlin continue to operate as a single entity? That's the question being asked following the cancellation of the airline's annual press conference today.

Air Berlin will not comment, but reports in the German aviation media suggest that Etihad Airways, which owns a 30 per cent stake in the German carrier, would like to see it split into two separate divisions.

One division would handle the tourism business, which includes flights within Europe, while the other would concentrate solely on feeder routes to Etihad's hub at Abu Dhabi.

It is unclear whether or not the "tourism business" would cover Air Berlin's transatlantic flights.

If the division was to proceed then it is understood that Etihad might increase its investment in the financially troubled carrier. Website has reported that Air Berlin's financial results were negative in five of the past six years.

If Air Berlin were to increase its feeder flights to Abu Dhabi, then it would be good news for passengers, but not such good news for national airline Lufthansa because of potential traffic losses over its long-haul network. 

New Etihad livery

In other news, it is understood that Etihad will unveil a new livery and corporate image later this year.

Details are a closely guarded secret, but the first aircraft to see the new colours and interior products, say Etihad insiders, will be the Gulf carrier's first B787 in October, followed by its first A380 in December.

And a report in Arabian Business confirms that the interiors of both new aircraft will be unveiled at the Arabian Travel Mart (ATM) in Dubai this May.

Alex McWhirter

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