Etihad swoops in to buy stake in Irish airline Aer Lingus
UAE airline Etihad Airways has bought almost three per cent of Aer Lingus as part of a strategy to build closer ties with the Irish carrier, it revealed yesterday.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But it appears part of a wider Etihad effort to seek shares in smaller carriers to gain a possible edge in its rivalries with competing carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways.
Etihad said the 2.987 percent stake in Aer Lingus reflects a “desire to forge a commercial partnership with the Irish national carrier”.
Etihad in recent months has bought large stakes in Airberlin and Air Seychelles in a bid to challenge Emirates and Qatar Airways. Etihad operates 10 flights a week from its Abu Dhabi hub to Dublin.
Last month, Etihad said its sales jumped 28 per cent to $989 million in the first quarter of the year as it pushed ahead with its ongoing rapid expansion.
In February, Aer Lingus reported a strong growth in profits for 2011 despite the country’s economic downturn. The Dublin-based carrier says its full-year net profit rose 66 per cent to €71.2 million ($95.6 million). Sales rose six per cent to €1.29 billion ($1.73 billion).
Reports have linked Etihad to Air Lingus in the past. And the carrier hinted its minority stake buy could be the start of a deeper partnership.
“Etihad Airways believes a possible partnership could produce significant commercial benefits for both airlines,” the airline said.