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Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas.

PHOTO BY ETIHAD


Etihad CEO denies merger with Emirates, reveals recovery plan

 

DUBAI – Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas has revealed the airline’s recovery plans in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

On CNN’s Quest Means Business, Douglas spoke about the company’s plans to slowly increase the number of flights it is operating.

“It’s small steps in a very controlled way, subject obviously to government approval here in Abu Dhabi and the destinations in question. But my sense is we’re looking at the 16th of July is when we see that we’d like to make a few more steps, and hopefully with the right approvals in place where it’s safe to fly, we’ll build off the back of that,” he said.

With profits down across the industry, it has been suggested that Etihad could merge with fellow UAE carrier Emirates.

Douglas praised the two companies’ cooperation during the pandemic, but denied a merger. “At this point in time, I don’t know of any plans in that regard, and were there ever to be so, it’s something that would be handled at stakeholder level or shareholder level, but what we are doing, wherever possible is working together,” he said.

During the current crisis, Etihad has been providing its aircraft for use in humanitarian and repatriation flights.

The company recently announced it has laid off employees across its business units as the coronavirus affected air travel around the world.

“We are incredibly proud of our world-class workforce, however, we have had to make redundancies across several areas of our business to reflect current market conditions,” an Etihad spokesperson said in a statement on May 19.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline reportedly laid off hundreds of employees, including cabin crew to cut costs this month.

Etihad Airways announces job cuts amid Covid-19 crisis

Meanwhile, the airline is continuing its repatriation flights from the UAE, as well as special flights to help expatriates return to the country.

Etihad is operating flights to the UAE from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, Melbourne, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo and Toronto.

The scheduled flights have been in operation since May 9 and will continue until May 30, according to Etihad.

Expats from Manila, London, 15 cities can now return to UAE on Emirates, Etihad flights

On the routes, Douglas said destinations would change in the wake of the pandemic. “The world continues to change. I imagine there’s destinations that we’ve been flying in the past that we will no longer find economic value in going forward. And equally, there was probably places that will emerge as a result of the economic changes that will be around all of us that will find opportunity in,” he said.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW

Q&A with Etihad’s CEO

On adding more flights

“It’s small steps in a very controlled way, subject obviously to government approval here in Abu Dhabi and the destinations in question. But my sense is we’re looking at the 16th of July is when we see that we’d like to make a few more steps, and hopefully with the right approvals in place where it’s safe to fly, we’ll build off the back of that.”

On the impact of coronavirus

“The heaviest losses that all airlines are taking at the moment, and there’s no denying that, and that’s a reality of what Covid has done to our industry. And obviously the economic tsunami that seems to be washing through as a result.”

On a merger with Emirates

“At this point in time, I don’t know of any plans in that regard, and were there ever to be so, it’s something that would be handled at stakeholder level or shareholder level, but what we are doing, wherever possible is working together.”

On humanitarian aid flights

“In terms of the humanitarian flying that we’ve been doing, I can tell you, I thought I had a reasonably well-developed knowledge of geography. We’ve been flying to places we hardly knew existed. We’ve been doing an extensive amount of humanitarian aid. The government of the UAE has generously been donating support all around the world.”

On plans for future routes

“The world continues to change. I imagine there’s destinations that we’ve been flying in the past that we will no longer find economic value in going forward. And equally, there was probably places that will emerge as a result of the economic changes that will be around all of us that will find opportunity in.”

CNN/Expat Media


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