Etihad Airways has acquired a nearly 3 per cent stake in Ireland’s Aer Lingus as the Abu Dhabi based carrier continues to pursue a strategy of investing in smaller airlines.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Etihad currently operates 10 flights a week from Abu Dhabi to Dublin and said the investment in Aer Lingus reflects its “desire to forge a commercial partnership with the Irish national carrier.”
Etihad last year purchased a 40 per cent share of Seychelles Airlines and a nearly 30 per cent stake in budget carrier Air Berlin. The fast growing airline hopes the investments will bolster its bottom line as it competes with Gulf rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways.
Etihad has for some time been rumoured to hold an interest in purchasing a share of alliance partner Virgin Australia, which last month overhauled its corporate structure in a bid to encourage overseas investment in its domestic operations.
Etihad posted its first ever profit in 2011 on the back of a 36 per cent increase in revenues. Last month, the carrier said its first half sales jumped 28 per cent to US$989 million. Aer Lingus also reported strong 2011 results despite Ireland’s economic struggles, with profits up 66 per cent to 71.2 million euros (A$90.8m).