Etihad Airways has increased its equity stake in Virgin Australia Holdings to 19.9 per cent.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline, which now holds more than 515 million shares in its equity partner airline, has reached the threshold approved by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board in June 2013. Etihad raised its stake in Virgin Australia from 10.5 per cent through a series of market purchases over recent weeks, it said.
James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways, said the move reflects its strong support for the business strategy and management team of Virgin Australia and “enduring commitment” to the Australian market. “We look forward to strengthening its commercial foundations,” he said.
Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia signed a 10-year strategic partnership agreement in August 2010 that includes codesharing, joint sales and marketing activities, and reciprocal earn-and-burn on respective frequent flyer programs.
Passengers have access to more than 40 codeshare destinations in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Thailand and loyalty perks include priority baggage handling, priority boarding and airport lounge access for top tier program members.
Combined, Etihad Airways (25) and Virgin Australia (3) operate 28 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and Australia and passengers have access to a combined global network of more than 280 destinations.
Etihad also holds equity investments in airberlin, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus, and will acquire 49 per cent of Air Serbia from January 2014, and 24 per cent of India’s Jet Airways, subject to regulatory approval.