It’s been an expensive week for Etihad Airways. Hidden on page 154 of Air Berlin’s annual report, came the revelation that Etihad had pumped an extra $382 Million into the struggling German airline.
We also learnt this week that Alitalia – in which Etihad own 49% – has debts of $3.3 billion USD. The near-bankrupt Italian airline is expected to be put up for sale in the next two months.
Elsewhere, a Paris-bound United Airlines passenger was flown to San Francisco by mistake. An Australian man is suing American Airlines for being forced to endure a 14-hour flight next to grossly obese passengers. And finally, Qatar Airways has become the official airline of the FIFA World Cup in Russia and Qatar.
A full summary continues below.
Etihad Boosts Struggling Air Berlin with $382 Million Investment
06th May 2017 – Courtesy Skift
Last week, the German low-cost carrier that is 30% owned by Etihad Airways, published its annual report. It did not make for easy reading. In just six years, Air Berlin has produced net losses of €2.7 billion and net debt of €1.2 billion.
But it doesn’t look like Etihad is ready to give up on its investment just yet. Hidden away on page 154 of the report was the news that the Etihad will provide €350 million of new funds. The money is intended to keep Air Berlin going for the next 18-months.
The new investment will bring the Abu Dhabi-based airline’s exposure to Air Berlin to nearly €2 billion.
At the End of February, Alitalia had Debts of $3.3 Billion
06th May 2017 – Courtesy Reuters
Italy’s government has announced that the national flag carrier, Alitalia had debts of around €3 billion ($3.3 billion USD) at the end of February. The debt-stricken airline filed for Special Administration last week.
In reports released by the government, Alitalia’s financials showed current liabilities of about €2.3 billion but assets of just €921 million.
Italy has already ruled out the prospect of renationalising Alitalia. Three commissioners appointed by the government have been given six months to assess whether Alitalia can be restructured. However, reports suggest that the carrier will be put up for sale within two months.
Sources have said the airline is losing at least a million euros a day. A bridge loan of €600 million will help it remain flying during the process.
Both Lufthansa and Norwegian have said they are not interested in buying Alitalia. Qatar Airways has refused to comment on media speculation that it is interested in taking over the airline.
Passenger With Ticket to Paris Ends Up on the Wrong Plane to San Francisco
05th May 2017 – Courtesy Conde Nast Traveler
Last week a lone French female passenger, who speaks no English was due to travel from Newark to Paris. Somehow, Lucie Bahetoukilae ended up in San Francisco.
Bahetoukilae managed to get past the United Airlines gate agent with her Paris-bound boarding pass only to find her seat occupied. A United flight attendant allegedly even double checked her boarding pass but didn’t notice the mistake. She then found an alternative seat for Bahetoukilae.
A spokesperson for United said of the incident: “We deeply apologise to Ms. Bahetoukilae for this unacceptable experience. When she arrived in San Francisco we ensured she got on the next flight to Paris and refunded her ticket. Our customer care team has reached out to her directly to ensure we make this right. We are also working with our team in Newark to prevent this from happening again.”
Bahetoukilae was accommodated on the next flight from San Franciso to Paris. But as Conde Nast Traveler reports, that turned what should have been a seven-hour flight into a 28-hour odyssey.
Australian Man Sues American Airlines for Being Forced to Sit Next to Obese Passengers
04th May 2017 – Courtesy The Points Guy
Court papers have just been filed by a 67-year old Australian man who is suing American Airlines for an incident that occurred in December 2015. Michael Anthony Taylor claims he was forced next to two grossly obese passengers on the 14 hour AA flight from Sydney to Los Angeles.
Taylor was sitting in an Economy Class window seat when the body of the middle seat passenger “spilt over and encroached” into his space. As a result, he was forced to “contort his body into a series of positions including standing up, crouching, keeling and leaning forward.”
Taylor claims the incident has aggravated pre-existing medical conditions that include back injuries, neck pain and scoliosis. The situation was apparently made worse when the crew refused Taylor’s request to move seats, use a crew jump seat or even sit in the lavatory.
Qatar Airways to Take Over FIFA World Cup Sponsorship
07th May 2017 – Courtesy First Post
Qatar Airways has signed a deal with the global soccer body, FIFA to become the official airline and sponsor of the next two World Cups. Russia will host the next competition with the second happening in Qatar Airways’s home city of Doha.
The airline did not disclose the value of the deal that will see it taking over from its rival, Emirates. The Dubai-based airline recently said that it would be interested in sponsoring future FIFA World Cups.
A spokesperson for FIFA said the deal “represents one of the biggest sporting sponsorships in the world and the largest in the history of Qatar Airways.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.