Etihad Airways to consider more equity investments if they add value

Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has foreshadowed more investments in other airlines, as it continues to increase its global presence through a mix of organic growth and strategic partnerships. James Hogan, the airline’s president and chief executive officer, said the airline was currently engaged in three major transactions – the acquisition of 24% of India’s Jet Airways, a 49% stake and management contract in Air Serbia, and increasing equity in Virgin Australia from 10% to a target of 19.9%. “Global reach is beyond the capacity of any single airline,” Mr Hogan said at a conference in Cologne, “and progress must come through partnership. The investments we are making are delivering significant benefits not only to the airlines but to our passengers and freight customers. We will consider more strategic partnerships if they add value.” Etihad Airways launched its equity investment strategy in 2011 with the purchase of a 29% stake in airberlin, followed by a 40% investment in Air Seychelles, which included a five year management contract. This was followed last year by the investment in Virgin Australia and a three per cent stake in Ireland’s Aer Lingus, this year’s Air Serbia deal and, subject to final approval, the Jet Airways investment. Together, Etihad Airways and these six airlines serve more than 340 destinations with a fleet of 511 aircraft. They carried a combined total in 2012 of more than 91 million passengers – comparable to large airline partnerships in Europe and Asia.

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