Could it be that 1 + 1 = 3 ?!

We reported in our February 13th issue of CargoForwarder Global on the pro’s and con’s of Etihad’s supposed tie-in with Alitalia.
As an afterthought, we tend to think that maybe there’s a different strategy behind the Arabian carrier’s expensive move into the ever ailing Italian carrier.

Source: A380 - Air France
Source: A380 - Air France

In the meantime Italian sources report that an agreement has been reached between Alitalia and its unions regarding the proposed airline’s industrial plan and cost cuts and that both sides would sign off on this as first step.
Furthermore, AZ’s management has proposed solidarity contracts for up to 590 of its cabin personnel in another move to cut staff costs.
The above measures are sure to keep Etihad’s top management somewhat happy that Alitalia is taking their demands seriously.

The above is still only the tip of the iceberg!
However, is this all that Etihad is aiming for? If so, then a pretty expensive exercise whereby the danger still exists that things may not work to the financial benefit of Etihad at the end of the day.

What could be the real strategy behind it all?
There were all sorts of rumors a year or so ago that Etihad (EY) had approached Air France with the request that they consider selling off KLM, Martinair and Transavia to Etihad.
This was turned down by AF.
In the meantime however, despite the rebuff oflast year, EY has managed to maneuver itself into a close alliance with the AF/KL group by getting into bed more often together on the passenger side.
Apart from this, KLM now has one of its freighters flying for Etihad and in turn, Etihad is building Amsterdam airport into one of their cargo hubs.

Source: HS
Source: HS

This can’t all be coincidence - can it?
One remembers well KLM’s initial investments into Alitalia which ended up with them gaining approximately a 25% equity share and at the end of the day, a failed alliance.
AF/KL can no longer afford to even think of putting more cash into keeping Alitalia afloat.
Can you imagine the  reactions from their unions and shareholders when AF is telling them they have to shed more than 8,000 staff and in the same breath, state they want to invest (again) into AZ.

That would end up in something near to an internal war.

Etihad needs to have a strong and reliable alliance within the European arena. They don‘t have it with their present investment in Air Berlin, which is anyway too small to use as a useful ally in Europe.

Are we then going to witness somewhere down the road a holding company being set up between Air France-KLM and Etihad along the lines of the IAG (BA & IB) alliance?
Could well be as we can’t imagine that Etihad is pumping money through the door when they won’t see it coming back the other end.

Speculation? Not necessarily!
EY’s positioning itself in AMS, AF-KL’s financial woes which could be settled easier and the leverage of all three carriers to come out on top in the air cargo scene.

So, maybe 1+1 will end up at 3!

John Mc Donagh