Emirates chief denies merger plans with Etihad Airways

Published March 12th, 2017 - 02:20 GMT
Talking at the ITB tourism fair, Emirates President, Tim Clark, commented on popularity of low-cost airlines, Trump's travel ban and Emirates-Etihad merger rumors. (AFP/Tobias Schwarz)
Talking at the ITB tourism fair, Emirates President, Tim Clark, commented on popularity of low-cost airlines, Trump's travel ban and Emirates-Etihad merger rumors. (AFP/Tobias Schwarz)

Emirates President Tim Clark has rubbished reports about merger plans between UAE's two major airlines.

Talking at the ITB tourism fair, the aviation industry veteran commented on popularity of low-cost airlines, Trump's travel ban and Emirates-Etihad merger rumours.

Commenting on the merger of Dubai carrier Emirates and national carrier Etihad Airways, he described reports that the ruling families of UAE - who own the two airlines - are discussing a merger as "nonsense," Bloomberg reported.

Low-cost airlines

Regarding low-cost airlines taking over inter-continental routes and it's impact on Emirates, Clark said he is braced for a 'gathering storm.'

The Gulf company may also need to establish a short-haul fleet as Mideast nations it has struggled to serve begin to open up, he said.

"Now aircraft makers are producing aircraft that can go for far longer quite cheaply, and it's up to us to recognize that, and look at how we adapt."

The carrier's room for maneuver may be limited by capacity curbs at its Dubai International airport hub, which tend to favor the deployment of bigger planes. The new Al Maktoum International hub will greatly increase flexibility but won't be occupied by Emirates until well into next decade.

The near 250-strong Emirates fleet currently consists solely of Boeing 777 jets and Airbus A380 superjumbos ill-suited to serving shorter routes, with the carrier ranking as the biggest operator of both types.

"I'm quite sure that management behind me will consider all options," said Clark, who has run the carrier since 2003.

Trump travel ban

US President Donald Trump's recent travel ban on seven mainly Muslim countries led to a 35 percent decline in bookings, Clark said at the fair.


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