Tony Douglas, Etihad Airways’ CEO, has once again shot down rumours of a potential merger with Emirates Airline; he has said that he does not believe the A380 will be able to sustain itself going forward.

Speaking on Etihad’s new podcast, Douglas described ongoing rumours about a potential merger between the UAE’s two super-connectors as “nothing other than an obvious question that people will probably continue to ask me”.

“If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked that question, I guess if Tim Clark was given a dollar for every time he’s been asked the same question, between the two of us we’d be able to resolve the balance sheet challenges that airlines everywhere have got at the moment.”

Tony Douglas, Etihad Airways Group CEO

“The reality is it’s a predictable and obvious piece of speculation, so there’s no flippant way of closing it down by saying what a ridiculously ludicrous question. Having said that, because it’s such an obvious question, the reality is as simple as it would only ever be facilitated by the two shareholders, and I, and to the best of my knowledge Tim, know not of any dialogue whatsoever.”

When asked whether Etihad Airways would launch flights to Israel, following the normalisation of relations with the UAE, Douglas did not confirm any new services but suggested that the airline is already in the process of exploring the idea.

“It probably caught all of us as with a surprise” he said, referring to the news that the UAE and Israel had relaxed tensions. “We’ve already been in dialogue and I see there’s nothing other than great opportunity to explore the means by which we can give a direct air corridor from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi. So, I’ll keep you posted.”

Douglas also gave his view on the Airbus A380’s role in global fleets, indicating that he thinks the superjumbo’s days are numbered.

“Anything with more than two engines is sadly not going to be able to sustain itself going forward, particularly if your brand is as serious about sustainability as Etihad is.”

Tony Douglas, Etihad Airways Group CEO

“The 787 Dreamliner is massively, massively more efficient per seat kilometer than the A380 and everybody knows that. So we’re heartbroken to see our 380s parked up. The question as to whether they will ever fly again, to be equally direct about it, I‘d say the jury is out.

“I think it’s heavily handicapped by two engines too many and other aircraft that can do the job far more efficiently, far more sustainably, so I’m not trying to rule out the 380. It would break my heart even more to do so at this stage, but in the same way that 747s have finally been retired pretty much everywhere, I think we’re probably going to see now an acceleration of the same with the global A380 fleet.”

Source: Etihad’s new podcast