Etihad Airways – considered the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards has upped its stake in Virgin Australia to the maximum allowed by the Foreign Investment Review Board in Australia.
The Abu Dhabi based carrier now holds a 22.9 per cent stake after spending another AU$28.34 million last week.
Just prior to completing the transaction, Etihad chief executive James Hogan was elected to the Virgin board.
Hogan told Virgin investors Etihad was not only a shareholder but also a “long-term and active investor” in Virgin.
Etihad earlier this month received approval for its 49 per cent stake in ailing Italian carrier Alitalia and has made investments in Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Air Seychelles, Air Serbia and Jet Airways.
The airlines will be organised into the new Etihad Airways Partners, which is designed to challenge more traditional airline alliances.
Virgin Australia’s other major shareholders are Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and the Virgin Group.