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Update 9/20/18 10:47am ET: According to people familiar with the matter, Emirates would acquire the main airline business of Etihad, while the maintenance arm would stay with Etihad. The people said the negotiations could still fall through.

Update 9/20/18 10:26am ET: “There is no truth to this story,” an Etihad spokesperson told TPG.

Update 9/20/18 10:24am ET: An Emirates spokesperson told TPG that “There’s no truth to this rumour.”


What’s long been rumored to happen may be finally in the works. According to people familiar with the matter cited by Bloomberg, Emirates is looking to take over Etihad. The combined Emirates-Etihad airline would become the world’s largest by passenger traffic.

According to Bloomberg’s report, talks are still at a preliminary stage. The deal, if reached, would require the approval of the rulers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the respective owners of Emirates and Etihad.

TPG reached out to Emirates but did not receive a response by time of publication.

The two airlines have long been competitors, as two of the “Middle Eastern Three” or “Gulf Three” carriers — the third being Qatar Airways.

In May, Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said that the airline’s priority wasn’t a merger with Etihad. In fact, the issue hadn’t been discussed, he said.

“Many people have reported there will be a merger,” Sheikh Ahmed said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “There is no such thing. I think when we talk about synergy today, it is between Emirates and FlyDubai.” It appears that has changed.

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