Etihad acquires 4% stake in Virgin Australia
Etihad Airways has acquired a 3.96 percent stake in Virgin Australia Holdings, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier said in a statement.
The airline said that the shareholding had been built up in recent weeks through purchases on the open market.
“Etihad Airways believes that this equity investment in Virgin Australia’s domestic operations significantly strengthens the 10-year strategic partnership forged by the two carriers in August 2010,” the statement added.
Etihad began flying to Australia in March 2007, operating services to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The company says 2.2m passengers have been carried between the UAE capital and those three cities over the past five years.
In recent months, the airline has focused on buying stakes in other carriers.
In December, Etihad raised its shareholding in budget carrier airberlin from 3 percent to just shy of 30 percent at a cost of €73m. As part of the deal Etihad also lent the German carrier US$255m.
Last month, Etihad purchased a 3 percent stake in Irish operator Aer Lingus.
In an interview with Arabian Business in May, Sir Maurice Flanagan, executive vice chairman of Etihad rival Emirates, rejected any suggestion that the Dubai carrier would follow suit and look to buy up stakes in other airlines.
“Absolutely not… It eats up an enormous amount of senior management time,” he said. “They want you to develop that airline to be like Emirates.”