Speaking at the recent IATA annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Clark said that neither entry into an alliance nor a merger with Etihad Airways, about which there has been considerable press speculation, is in the cards.
"For some people, an alliance may be a nice thing to do," he said, adding that many airlines that are in alliances are suffering significant financial difficulty. "Is an alliance the answer? The answer is ´no´. If your model is strong enough and your business is well run, and you can sustain through the tough times and are able to grow your business, stay with it." He said EK studied carriers from small countries with robust economies, like Swissair and Singapore Airlines, when it was established.
Regarding reports of EK´s interest in Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, Clark said that "there is no move to merge. . .at the moment," adding, "but in the end, we are just managers. It is up to the [the rulers of the emirates] to determine what will happen in the future. At the moment, we continue to do what we do."
He said he sees EK operating around 163 aircraft in three years, "and we have to consider the 58 aircraft we have to retire, including the A330-200, A340-300 and 777-200/-300 classics." In the short term, conditions will continue to be rough for the industry, he said. "You may see a big bang in the next year. There will be many players who won´t survive."
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