Thursday, August 25, 2016
Air Transport World Online reported earlier this week that the European Commission has completed its investigation into Etihad Airways' 49 percent stake in Air Serbia and determined the relationship is consistent with EU requirements limiting foreign ownership and control of EU carriers. Etihad has been aggressively investing in EU carriers over the past few years, in multiple cases purchasing up to the maximum 49 percent stake permitted to foreign investors. Recently, observers have wondered if Etihad may be pushing the boundaries of the EU rules by effectively controlling the operations of EU carriers through ownership of substantial minority stakes. The conclusion of this investigation suggests the EC does not see a legal case to be made. The EC is also in the process of rewriting its ownership and control rules, so it may be postponing any difficult fights until they can be litigated under the new policy.