Etihad Airways president and CEO James Hogan said (24-Sep-2013) the airline will consider more equity investments if they add value. The carrier is currently engaged in the acquisition of 24% of Jet Airways, a 49% stake and management contract with Air Serbia and increasing equity in Virgin Australia from 10% to a target of 19.9%. Mr Hogan said, "Global reach is beyond the capacity of any single airline. Progress must come through partnership. The investments we are making are delivering significant benefits not only to the airlines but to our passengers and freight customers. Equity investments deliver synergy benefits which cannot be achieved through legacy airline alliances. Legacy alliances are focused largely on network and revenue benefits. Our equity alliance delivers much broader benefits for all of the partners including opportunities to reduce costs through resource sharing and joint procurement." [more - original PR]
Etihad Airways open to more equity investments
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Virgin Australia realigns its airline partnership priorities on new long haul strategy: Part 1
There have recently been important shifts in Virgin Australia's partnership relations, as Air New Zealand withdraws its ownership and the roles of Singapore Airlines and Etihad evolve with HNA becoming a substantial shareholder. As a consequence, Virgin is restructuring its long haul network for the first time in over two years. Individual changes are not significant, but they help tie up loose ends in Virgin's strategy. Virgin and its US JV partner Delta have been static since United and Qantas-American Airlines greatly altered the Australia-US market profile, a route which constitutes most of Virgin's long haul network.
Virgin struggled to find a use for what was essentially leftover aircraft capacity that it allocated to Sydney-Abu Dhabi as part of a JV with Etihad. With a limited fleet, North America beckoning, and Etihad seemingly losing some lustre since a Virgin-Singapore Airlines partnership, Virgin is having to cut Sydney-Abu Dhabi to free up capacity to relaunch Melbourne-Los Angeles.
Virgin will still commit to its Etihad partnership by adding three weekly Perth-Abu Dhabi flights on the A330-200, which will finally be moved out of the domestic market and deployed long haul. Since the end of the West Australian mining boom, these well equipped aircraft are no longer needed on transcontinental domestic service. Virgin's fleet of five 777-300ERs now will exclusively be used on Los Angeles.
Air Serbia's 2015 profit another step in Etihad-inspired transformation. Wizz Air a possible threat
Air Serbia's transformation from the loss-making carrier Jat Airways in 2013 to one with the possibility of sustainable levels of profitability took another step forward in 2015, with another positive result. After receiving investment from Etihad and the Serbian government in 2H2013, it had recovered from heavy losses to a small profit in 2014. This was based on an impressive reduction in unit cost, with a realignment of the network and its commercial positioning.
In 2015 Air Serbia again increased its net profit, although this remained slim at only 1% of revenue. Buoyed by its success in establishing a track record of positive results, Air Serbia is growing its European network. Perhaps more significantly, it is also launching its first long haul route, Belgrade-New York, this summer.
Its unit cost is efficient versus legacy airlines and not very much higher than LCCs such as easyJet. It has the good fortune to face only a relatively small amount of competition from LCCs (it only has competition from any other airline on a minority of its routes). However, the ultra-LCC Wizz Air, which has a much lower unit cost than Air Serbia, is its leading LCC competitor and could provide a greater threat over time.