Etihad doubles Virgin Australia stake amid growth push

Etihad Airways plane
Image caption Etihad has picked up stakes in various regional airlines to boost its international presence

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways has doubled its stake in Virgin Australia amid a push to increase its global presence.

The airline said it had bought 221 million shares in the open market to take its stake in the Australian carrier to 10%.

Etihad has been looking to boost its international presence to take on other regional carriers such as Emirates and Qatar Airways.

However, Etihad said it was not looking to take control of Virgin Australia.

"Our small equity stake reflects the strong working relationship of both airlines and again demonstrates our enduring commitment to the Australian market," said James Hogan, chief executive officer of Etihad.

More cooperation

Etihad first bought a stake in Virgin Australia in June this year.

The two airlines have worked closely on various fronts, including code-sharing on flights and joint marketing initiatives.

The two carriers have also introduced reciprocal schemes to earn and utilise points on their respective frequent flyer programs.

The moves come as airlines all across the globe have been facing slowing demand and higher fuel costs.

Etihad said that it plans to further enhance its relationship with Virgin Australia to streamline its business and keep its costs in check.

"We support the management strategy of Virgin Australia and will continue to work closely with them on ways to improve our business," said Mr Hogan.

Etihad Airways also holds equity investments in Air Berlin, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus.

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