Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund is contemplating floating its Etihad Airways on international stock markets and has been discussing the move with banks, according to those close to deliberations. 

Although the airline and ADQ, the sovereign wealth fund, declined to comment Bloomberg reported conversations with banks that suggested the move could come as early as this year. 

It’s not the first Gulf airline to consider the move. It’s been widely reported since 2021 that Dubai’s ruling executive has considered an IPO for Emirates Airline

But if it does happen – and that’s a very big ‘if’ – it would mean a new era for the Gulf airline. 

Etihad has struggled to keep up with its regional rivals, Emirates and Qatar Airways. All three compete globally, and have attempted to establish their home airports as hubs for trans-continental flights (with varying levels of success). 

The space in the Middle East market is only going to get more crowded with Saudi airline Riyadh Air launching at Paris Air Show 2023, and Red Sea International Airport set to open in 2024. 

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An IPO could be a renewed growth strategy for the airline, which has reached new audiences and customers in the past 10 years by becoming one of the largest spending sport sponsors in the sector. Etihad recently extended its presence in India with a new cricket shirt sponsorship, and corresponding new routes: daily flights to Kozhikode (CCJ) and Thiruvananthapuram (TRV).