Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan said during a (03-Jun-2013) media briefing at the IATA annual general meeting in Cape Town that the carrier plans to add one more US city in 2014. Etihad currently has three US gateways – Chicago O’Hare, New York JFK and Washington Dulles. It also serves Toronto in Canada and just launched service to Sao Paulo in Brazil. Mr Hogan says Etihad has no plans to add a second Latin American city in 2014 but says the carrier will start working with an unnamed Latin American carrier during 2014. Etihad is bullish on the prospects for growing its network in the Americas. The carrier particularly expects its US operation to benefit from the opening later this year of a US pre-clearance customs facility in Abu Dhabi. The facility will give Etihad a competitive advantage as it will be the first in the Middle East.
IATA AGM 2013: Etihad plans one more US destination in 2014
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Lufthansa and Etihad: equity tie up could further align mutual strategy, but marriage unlikely
Greater cooperation between Lufthansa and Etihad reflects their local and global challenges growing in quantity and complexity. Contact between the two has led to speculation that the partnership could radically expand to include an equity tie up, with rumoured merger talks.
Their initial Dec-2016 codeshare announcement was, in practical terms, small but showed the possibility, as they stated, to expand cooperation. However, it would be a leap to go from their handful of codeshares to a 17-Jan-2017 article from Italian daily newspaper Il Messaggero that Etihad could invest in Lufthansa on the way to a possible merger between the two. A subsequent denial in a Reuters story that "A financial stake is out of the question at the moment", does little to dispel the rumour. Were it not for the last three words of that statement the rumour would lack credibility.
There is certainly logic for a deeper partnership - and the two have danced this waltz before. Equity involvement from airlines can cement partnerships, add to board influence and partially allow one side to gain financially from any matter it feels it is compromising away. Nevertheless, there are obstacles to a full blown merger, and even to Etihad's taking a 30% to 40% stake. A marriage between the new bedfellows does not seem an immediate prospect. Nonetheless the logic is there for a move; and the mere fact of a potential move is sufficient to rock the equilibrium.
Alitalia: "everyone has to pull in the same direction" – ongoing issues, and viability is at stake.
After Alitalia’s board approved the second phase of its business plan on 22-Dec-2016, CEO Cramer Ball stressed the importance of achieving the support of its workforce. He said, “Everyone has to pull in the same direction to make Alitalia a viable, sustainable success story and help the airline achieve its ambition of long-term growth and profitability”. Alitalia suffered strike action from some flight crew in 2016.
Full details of the plan, which has received the support of Italy's government, have not yet been made public. Alitalia's network strategy includes further long haul growth and a reworking of its short haul operation, with an emphasis on feeding long haul via Rome and Milan. Other elements of the plan include cost-cutting, reduced headcount and possible changes to joint venture agreements. Details are to be presented to Alitalia’s workforce in Jan-2017.
Also on 22-Dec-2016, Alitalia's shareholders approved short-term funding and gave management 60 days to begin negotiations with key stakeholders - lessors, suppliers and distribution companies, in addition to trade unions. Alitalia needs their support for deep cost reduction measures, in order to win the long-term financing needed to secure the airline's future.