Emirates and Etihad: Golf airlines must finally merge

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Parked Emirates aircraft in Dubai

The airlines do not see passengers returning fully before 2023.

(Photo: Bloomberg)

Good news has covered up the gloomy prospect for the airline that has so far grown so aggressively on the Gulf: For the first time, an Etihad Airways aircraft has landed in Israel – to deliver relief supplies to the Corona crisis in Palestine. The Arab states have so far boycotted Israel extensively.

But if you look behind the positive message, you will see “bad news“: Etihad is deeply in crisis, most of the planes are on the ground, hundreds of the more than 20,000 jobs are being cut. Before 2023, neither Etihad nor the big rival from the small neighboring Emirate of Dubai, Emirates, see a full return of passengers.

The turnstiles on the Gulf – they do not turn, they stand, the planes do not salute the sun. The heads of the two previously extremely self-confident airlines have recently warned that 85 percent of airlines worldwide could go bankrupt.

Therefore, what both golf carriers have been rejecting for years now offers itself: a merger. Emirates is certainly the stronger brand, Etihad had burned $ 5.6 billion since the pandemic since 2016 – mostly because of failed and extremely depreciated holdings such as Air Berlin, Alitalia, Indian Jet Airways and Serbia’s JAT.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone has four airlines. And Dubai and Abu Dhabi are too close together to be able to operate quickly and economically after the corona crisis. At least the two major UAE airlines should be merged. Existing synergies and the final burial of past mistakes could create a group that is a global market leader.

The egos of the rulers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi make a merger difficult. And Emirates from the smaller Dubai is clearly the stronger partner. Abu Dhabi is the much more powerful and richer emirate.

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