Air New Zealand may be planning to buy a 15 per cent stake in Virgin Blue, according to a report by Fairfax.
Citing unnamed sources at the airline, a report carried in The Age claimed that Air NZ could buy the cornerstone stake in Virgin Blue as part of plans for the two carriers to cooperate on trans-Tasman services. The report notes that such a stake could also allow Air NZ to gain an advantage in the next round of airline consolidation.
The report forced Air NZ to issue a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange in which it said that it has not purchased any shares in Virgin Blue, despite the two carriers’ planned alliance. “Air New Zealand is conscious that airline alliances such as the one planned with Virgin Blue frequently include an equity aspect, but the proposed alliance does not do so,” read its statement, which noted that it would not be commenting further on the speculation.
Despite the statement, some analysts are wary that a deal may still proceed. Only one week prior to announcing the proposed alliance with Virgin Blue, Air New Zealand had issued a statement noting that the two airlines had held talks for several months but no agreement had been reached, leading to speculation that there may be a similar tactic at play.