Etihad CEO Urges Europe to Embrace Airline Consolidation

Etihad Boeing 777

Etihad currently flies Boeing’s 777 but how many A350s will they add?

Etihad Airways Chief Executive James Hogan Thursday called on the European Union to welcome foreign investment in the bloc’s airline sector at a time when the EU is scrutinizing such holdings.

“External investment is not a threat. It is an opportunity to strengthen airlines, and to support employment and economic growth,” Mr. Hogan said in a news release. He said consolidation is “critical to sustainable air services.”

Etihad holds minority stakes in European carriers such as Air Berlin, Air Serbia and Aer Lingus Holdings PLC, and last month agree to acquire a 49% stake in ailing carrier Alitalia.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, is examining whether minority investments by Etihad and other foreign carriers give them excess influence in contravention of ownership rules. Foreign airlines aren’t permitted majority control of EU carriers.

Executives from European rivals including Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa AG last month urged the commission to examine whether investments from state-owned airlines, such as Etihad, violate EU subsidy rules.

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