Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is increasing its stake in Air Berlin to 29%, making it the largest single shareholder in the German low-cost carrier.
Under the agreement, Etihad will invest up to $255 million in Air Berlin over five years to support its fleet development and future network growth. Air Berlin will move its Middle East operation from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and will operate four Airbus A330-200 flights a week between Berlin and Abu Dhabi from 15 January 2012.
The two carriers will begin an extensive codesharing partnership, and the airlines’ frequent flyer programmes will be integrated. They will seek antitrust immunity to enable them to co-ordinate their route networks and sales and marketing activities.
“The strategic partnership with Etihad Airways opens up enormous opportunities for the future of our company,” said Air Berlin chief executive Hartmut Mehdorn.
“This applies especially to future market development and the realisation of synergies. One of the key components of the new partnership is the launch of Air Berlin services to Abu Dhabi, which will become our new gateway to Asia and Australia.”