Etihad Aviation Group and TUI AG are in discussions to create a strong European leisure airline group, focused on point-to-point flying to connect key tourist markets.
Etihad confirmed the discussions yesterday. The TUI Group, a multinational travel and tourism company headquartered in Hannover, Germany, is the largest leisure, travel and tourism company in the world.
A statement yesterday said the touristic operations of the airberlin group and the German TUIfly company, including the aircraft currently operated by TUIfly for airberlin under a wet-lease agreement, could contribute to a new airline group established by TUI AG and Etihad Aviation Group. This new airline group would serve a broad network of destinations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
MarketWatch said the move followed Air Berlin’s agreement last week to rent 40 planes to its rival Lufthansa, Germany’s largest carrier. Air Berlin also announced plans to cut 1200 jobs.
The new leisure airline group will be supported by the expertise of Etihad Aviation Group, “the fastest-growing aviation group in the world, and utilise TUI’s state-of-the-art distribution capacity”, the Etihad/TUI statement said.
TUI AG, Etihad Aviation Group and Air Berlin PLC intend to finalise an in-principle agreement “in due course”. Any agreement entered into will be subject to all necessary corporate and regulatory approvals.
TUIfly is part of TUI Group, the world’s number one tourism business, with around 75,000 employees serving 30 million customers a year, across the globe. TUI Group has a portfolio of more than 300 hotels, 14 cruise liners, six European airlines with around 140 aircraft and a wide-reaching distribution network, covering more than 1800 travel agencies and online portals.
Etihad Aviation Group is a fast-growing diversified aviation and travel group, with more than 26,000 employees. It comprises four business divisions – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways Engineering, the Hala Group, its destination management company, and the Airline Equity Partners. Etihad Aviation Group holds minority stakes in Virgin Australia, Air Berlin PLC, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, Etihad Regional and Jet Airways.
airberlin is the second largest airline in Germany and carried more than 30.2 million passengers in 2015. airberlin offers a global route network through its strategic partnership with Etihad Airways, which has a 29.21 per cent shareholding in airberlin, and through membership of the oneworld airline alliance.
Edited by Peter Needham