“We are a national airline so we are owned by our government.”James Hogan, Etihad Airways CEO

Some of Etihad’s Subsidies:

In free land
€424.5 million
In reduced interest payments from government loan guarantees
€6.4 billion
In “loans” and “shareholder advances” with no repayment obligation
€7.9 billion
in airport fee exemptions and rebates
€578.5 million

Over the past 10 years, Etihad Airways has grown at increasing rates across Europe, raising questions about its unprecedented growth.

The White Paper published by three U.S. airlines – American, Delta and United – in early 2015, reveals that Etihad Airways has received over €15 billion in subsidies since their inception from the government of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Unlike Etihad, most European airlines are listed companies, with strict rules of transparency, financial reporting and need to pay for the cost of capital.

European airlines are unable to compete against the illegal subsidies by the government of the UAE to Etihad Airways.

Besides using these profits to predatorily expand into routes and territories, regardless of market demand, Etihad has also been able to use these subsidies towards investments in ailing European airlines, including
Air Berlin, Alitalia, Air Serbia and Darwin Airline, using them to expand its network and market reach. This is against normal practices as required by an open market economy according to which a financially weak airline would have to be substantially restructured and downsized.

In the case of Etihad, the contrary has happened: It has injected vast amounts of money in these ailing European airlines in order to expand the feeder system to their Abu Dhabi-based network, including obliging Air Berlin to cancel one of its profitable flights (Berlin-Bangkok) in order to channel these passengers through its own hub in Abu Dhabi.

More than 25% of the 63 weekly flights between Europe and the Gulf airports are now being operated by airlines with substantial ownership by Etihad (Air Berlin, Fly Niki, Alitalia, Air Serbia.)

Actionable subsidies received by Etihad Airways include:

  • Government equity infusion made on non-commercial terms between 2007 through 2013

  • Government interest-free loans

  • Debt forgiveness in interest-free government ‘loans'

  • Non-repayable grants

  • Exemptions from airport taxes attributable to the government’s exemption of connecting passenger fees at Abu Dhabi airport

Etihad has invested €1.5 billion in failing European airlines, which is an extraordinary amount for a company without any earned profit.

Air Berlin

Etihad has owned 29.2% of Air Berlin since January 2012.

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In 2009, Etihad spent €2.25 billion to acquire a 49% stake in ailing Alitalia.

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Air Serbia

In 2013 Etihad Airways acquired 49% of Jat Airways and rebranded it Air Serbia.
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Etihad Regional

In April 2015, the Swiss Government approved Etihad's purchase of a 33% stake in Darwin Airline.

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Aer Lingus

March 2015, Etihad sold its stake in Irish carrier, Aer Lingus, to IAG, which owns and operates its main codeshare partner, British Airways, so that IAG could acquire the carrier.
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“With the largest aircraft available on the market, Emirates is collecting the passengers in Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, and Paris and flying them to Dubai. Etihad is complementing this approach by buying stakes in ailing European airlines and using them as feeders to its own hub. Air Berlin is a perfect example: As soon as Etihad took a stake in Air Berlin, the German airline cancelled all direct flights to Asia and East Africa. Now there is only one destination in that direction: Abu Dhabi. The emirate wants to replace Frankfurt and Munich as hubs.” Lufthansa Group Policy Brief 5/2014

Learn about the other subsidized carriers:


Emirates, the national airline of Dubai has collected subsidies from their government since 2004. Learn the different ways they have collected their subsidies from the United Arab Emirates.

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Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways never needed to depend on profits to keep their airline in business. When funds are running low, they can depend on a check from their government. Who else is going to buy all of those A350s?

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Take Action

Gulf carriers are using government subsidies to grown their capacity far higher than all other international carriers. This predatory behavior threatens European aviation jobs. Stop the subsidies by signing E4FC’s petition.

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