UAE's Etihad Airways increases stake in Virgin Australia to 10%

United Arab Emirate's national airlines Etihad Airways said yesterday that it has increased its stake in Virgin Australia Holdings to 10 per cent through open market transaction.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has acquired 221 million shares, further to obtaining approval from Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board in July to increase its holding from 5 to 10 per cent.

Etihad's president and chief executive officer, James Hogan, said, ''We are very pleased to have reached this threshold. We support the management strategy of Virgin Australia and will continue to work closely with them on ways to improve our business.''

Hogen said that Etihad wasn't interested in becoming a majority shareholder or taking control of Virgin Australia.

Etihad, established in 2003, is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world. The carrier flies to around 87 destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. It has a fleet of 66 Airbus and Boeing aircraft and operates over 1,300 flights per week.

Etihad owns a 30-per cent stake in airberlin, Germany's second-largest airline after Lufthansa, and 40-per cent in Air Seychelles, and also a 3-per cent interest in Irish low-cost carrier Aer Lingus.