The €1.758 (US$2.3 billion) deal announced by Etihad Airways and Alitalia on Friday will have ramifications for Alitalia’s cargo operation. The deal gives Etihad a 49 percent stake in the Italian carrier.
In an effort to better serve the Italian cargo market, which is the third largest in Europe, Alitalia’s cargo business will be re-launched and expanded, with the establishment of a center of excellence in Northern Italy, investment in handling capabilities at Italian airports, and the optimization of an integrated cargo network.
“For Etihad Airways, this is a strategic, long-term commercial investment,” said Etihad president and CEO James Hogan. “On completion, we are committed, with the other shareholders, to build a reinvigorated Alitalia as a competitive, sustainable and profitable business that can operate successfully in the global air travel market. We believe in Alitalia. It is great brand with enormous potential. With the right level of capitalization and a strong, strategic business plan, we have confidence the airline can be turned around and repositioned as a premium global airline once again.”
The deal adds to Etihad’s growing list of equity partners, which includes airberlin, Air Serbia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus.