Etihad Airways Chief Executive James Hogan Thursday called on the European Union to welcome foreign investment in the bloc's airline sector at a time when the EU is scrutinizing such holdings.

Etihad has been investing in various European carriers, most notably Alitalia. It even has its own brand, Etihad Regional, operated by Swiss-based Darwin. As it seeks more scale in the continent, no wonder the CEO is going more on the offensive. 

It's actually smart to reverse the argument, which becomes: Europe needs Etihad to maintain competition and diversity. 

On the other side of the fence, Lufthansa has possibly be the most vocal opponent of state-owned Gulf carriers, having been the one calling the EU regulator to block the investment in the national Italian airline. 

The war of words will certainly continue, European carriers accusing Etihad of receiving state subsidies (which it claims it doesn't) and airport priority, Etihad claiming that, even privatized, some European airlines keep getting debt waivers or direct aid, like the one Lufthansa got to refinance its pension fund.