Etihad Airways rebuffs media reports
Etihad Airways has denied recent claims it is interested in purchasing a stake in Croatia Airlines. It comes after the Croatian government revealed it plans to put the airline on sale before October 15. Speaking to “Arabian Business” an Etihad Airways spokesperson said, “We are not in talks to purchase a stake in Croatia Airlines”. Earlier in month it was also reported that Etihad was in “advanced talks” with Poland’s treasury for a potential equity investment in LOT Polish Airlines. Etihad has neither confirmed nor denied any negotiations. The news comes less than a month after Etihad purchased a 49% stake in Jat Airways.
While both Garuda Indonesia and China Southern Airlines have been named as potential partners for Croatia Airlines, the Indonesian national carrier has shown the most interest. This week the Minister for Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, and the President of the Croatia Airlines Supervisory Board, Siniša Petrović, are due to fly out to Jakarta in order to drum up interest in a deal. "If the strategic partner is from outside the European Union, the maximum stake we'd sell would be 49%. If it is from the EU, the stake can be up to 100%", Mr. Hajdaš Dončić explained recently.. The Independent Croatian Trade Union has written to the country’s Prime Minister, Zoran Milavonić, to voice its anger at the prospect of privatising Croatia Airlines. They have requested for a referendum to be called on whether Croatia Airlines and several other state owned companies should be sold.
Montenegro Airlines is currently the only national carrier in the former Yugoslavia not searching for a strategic partner. However, it was precisely Montenegro Airlines which caught Etihad Airways’ interest first. When in 2010 the Montenegrin government put 30% of its national carrier up for sale, Etihad Airways purchased the tender documentation, however, did not put in an offer later on. Adria Airways is believed to be in talks with China Southern Airlines while B&H Airlines is also on the lookout for a new partner following Turkish Airlines’ exit last year.