Dubai’s flagship airline Emirates is considering a takeover of Etihad. The move that would create the world’s biggest carrier by passenger traffic. A deal would be hugely significant for the regional and even global aviation sector. There has been speculation for some time that Emirates could step in to rescue its unprofitable neighbor.
Bloomberg reports that talks are at a preliminary stage, but would see Emirates acquire the main airline business of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad, which would keep its maintenance arm. The negotiations could yet fall through, their sources said.
Both airlines have denied that any talks are underway.
Any deal would require the blessing of the rulers of the richest sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates. The two airlines are part of the Gulf Three along Qatar Airlines, and have traditionally been arch rivals. Their hubs compete for transfer passengers on distance trips between Asia and the West.
The formation of a merged airline would surpass current industry No. 1 American Airlines, based on the most recent annual traffic figures from the International Air Transport Association. Emirates is already the world’s biggest airline on international routes and ranks fourth overall, behind the top three U.S. carriers.