Etihad is in discussions to lease aircraft to Lufthansa, on a temporary or permanent basis, from its holdings in Alitalia, Air Serbia or Air Berlin, as Lufthansa, which has recently doubled its operating profit, is also interested in growing its low-cost fleet, to 300 aircraft.

The Gulf carrier, on the other hand, is looking to offload its 29% stake in Air Berlin, which will possibly need a new round of financing by the end of 2017. In exchange for a Lufthansa-based consortium to scoop up the shares, Etihad would want more codeshare flights and access to Star Alliance.