Friday, 22 November 2013

Thinking big by buying small

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At this week’s Dubai Air Show, sales of $150 billion of aircraft to the big three Gulf carriers (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways) overshadowed a more intriguing development. Standing by its well-established reputation for snapping up airline stakes, Etihad—the Abu Dhabi-based flag-carrier of the UAE—paid an unknown sum for 33.3% of Darwin Airline, a carrier serving Europe’s beleaguered regional market. Etihad already owns chunks of Air Berlin, Virgin Australia, Air Seychelles, Ireland’s Aer Lingus and India’s Jet Airways, and is working to buy a stake in Air Serbia. Investing in a tiny carrier that deploys 50-seat aircraft may seem insignificant compared with these bulkier partnerships, but Etihad's chief executive, James Hogan, calls it a “step-change” in his airline’s strategy...