Huge European tour company TUI is to proceed with its plans to create a new Vienna-based European airline with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, owner of a slice of Virgin Australia.
Reports at the weekend said the TUI board had approved the plan to merge its TUIfly airline with the leisure operations of Air Berlin. Etihad, which owns 30% of Air Berlin, will acquire Air Berlin’s Niki unit and contribute it to the joint venture with TUI.
The Etihad Aviation Group and TUI AG have been in discussions for several months about creating a strong European leisure airline group, focused on point-to-point flying to connect key tourist markets.
Etihad confirmed the discussions in early October. The TUI Group, a multinational travel and tourism company headquartered in Hanover, Germany, is the largest leisure, travel and tourism company in the world.
Written by Peter Needham