Etihad Airways has increased its equity stake in Virgin Australia to 19.9%.
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier confirmed that it made a series of share purchases over recent weeks, and now holds more than 515 million shares in the Australian airline.
At 19.9%, Etihad has reached the maximum threshold approved by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board in June 2013.
James Hogan, president & CEO of Etihad said he was “delighted” to have reached the milestone.
“[This investment] reflects our strong support for the business strategy and management team of Virgin Australia and our enduring commitment to the Australian market,” said Hogan. “It also reflects the close working relationship between our two airlines and we look forward to strengthening its commercial foundations.”
Etihad and Virgin Australia signed a 10-year partnership in August 2010 that includes codesharing on flights, joint sales and marketing activities and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits. Combined, Etihad and Virgin Australia now operate 28 weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Australia.
Etihad also holds equity stakes in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus, will acquire 49% of Air Serbia from January 2014, and, subject to regulatory approval, will take a 24% interest in India’s Jet Airways.
Virgin Australia is also part-owned by Singapore Airlines (19.9%) and Air New Zealand (23%).