Etihad deal gave us $150m boost - airberlin CCO

Executive acknowledges Abu Dhabi carrier's role in surviving losses.
NEWS, Aviation


Loss-making carrier airberlin, part-owned by Etihad Airways, is set to save US$150m as a result of its partnership with the Abu Dhabi carrier, senior executives at the airline have revealed.

"When you take a 12 month period it has gone up to US$150m savings in total, due to joint purchases and other things [with Etihad],” Paul Gregorowitsch, chief commercial officer at airberlin, said in an interview at the carrier’s headquarters in the German capital.

CEO Hartmut Mehdorn, added that linkup with Etihad had helped the carrier “substantially” and “there is no doubt that Etihad is helping us overcome crisis.”

“Thanks to Etihad partnership, we are able to operate much easily. We have a lot of programmes that are helping us raise efficiency. They know something which we can learn from and vice-versa,” he said.

Germany’s largest carrier after Lufthansa, airberlin earlier this month saw its losses for the first three months of 2012 widen to €66.2m (US$81.8m), compared with a year-earlier loss of €43.9m.

As part of Etihad Airway’s acquisition of 29 percent last year, the Abu Dhabi carrier is reported to have agreed to grant airberlin up to US$255m, of which €90m was allegedly drawn down in the first quarter.

While Mehdorn acknowledged that a loan had been agreed as part of the deal and the financing would be released in three tranches, he declined to confirm the overall figure or how much had so far been drawn down.

Despite the carrier’s equity plummeting by about two-thirds to €101.3m by the end of June, its stock price dropping by almost a quarter this year and its losses rising, Mehdorn, who was appointed when former chief Joachim Hunold unexpectedly quit last year, is confident he can return the carrier to the black before his contract ends at the end of 2013.

“In the first half of this year, we have been in the red so I cannot call it a good year, of course. However, we are still saying that in 2013 we envisage to be back to being profitable. So yes, we plan to get back in the black by end of 2013,” he said.

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