Etihad Airways has announced that it has acquired a 3.96 per cent stake in Virgin Australia in a move that it believes will further strengthen the alliance between the two carriers.
Etihad and Virgin made the announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange on June 5, with the Abu Dhabi based carrier noting that its equity in the Australian airline had been “built over recent weeks, through purchases on the open market.” Etihad has not yet to say if it intends to increase its stake in Virgin Australia in the short term.
The acquisition comes months after Virgin completed a split between its international and domestic operations, which it said would allow foreign companies to be able to take a larger stake in its domestic operations. Etihad has been busy over the past year acquiring shares in a number of carriers and establishing new alliances with Air Berlin, Aer Lingus and Air Seychelles.
In August 2010 it entered into a 10 year alliance with Virgin, and had long been rumoured to be seeking a stake in its Australian partner. Air New Zealand and the Virgin Group are the other major investors in Virgin Australia.