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Etihad was even busier, taking equity stakes in more than half a dozen airlines to build a rival to the traditional aviation groups of OneWorld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance – one that carried almost 127 million passengers last year.Restrictions on travel from Muslim-majority countries and a ban on laptops from Middle Eastern airports – the latter finally lifted in the past month, thanks to enhanced security measures – have chilled the activities of the Gulf carriers into the U.S. Etihad scrapped flights to San Francisco last month and Emirates has cut 25 weekly services to the country.Delta Air Lines Inc. and China Eastern Airlines Corp. paid about 751 million euros ($876 million) to each take 10 percent stakes in Air France-KLM, with the European group using some of the cash to buy a 31 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. Alitalia SpA, which counts Etihad as a 49 percent investor and was declared insolvent in May, will also be brought into the joint venture.A future based on the power of the three big outbound tourism markets, rather than the strategic locations of global hubs, was always going to be challenging for the Gulf's carriers.
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