Etihad Airways’ equity stake in Virgin Australia Holdings has now reached 4.99 per cent, the Abu Dhabi-based airline has confirmed.
The company remains interested in “building a larger stake over time”, Etihad said earlier, but will only do so after receiving the necessary regulatory approvals.
The present stake has been built over recent weeks, through purchases on the open market.
Etihad Airways believes the equity investment in Virgin Australia’s domestic operations “significantly strengthens” the ten-year strategic partnership forged by the two carriers in August 2010 and will enrich the commercial benefits which the alliance already provides for both airlines.
Moreover, the deal will increase the benefits to Australian consumers and visitors to Australia, Etihad said.
Together, Etihad Airways and V Australia operate 24 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and Australia and passengers have access to a combined network of more than 150 destinations.
Last month Etihad Airways leased a Virgin Australia Boeing 777-300ER for use on its route between Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur.
Etihad Airways began flying to Australia in March, 2007 when it launched services to Sydney.
Melbourne and Brisbane were quickly added.
Nearly 2.2 million passengers have been carried between Abu Dhabi and these three cities in the last five years.
Etihad Airways has strategic codeshare partnerships with 35 airlines around the world.
Etihad Airways is considered the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards.