Move may be precursor to buying bigger stake
In what is seen as another step in the “big three” Middle Eastern carriers reaching into the European market, Etihad Airways has acquired a stake of 2.987% in the Irish airline Aer Lingus. The move is reported to be an extension of partnership talks between the two airlines that have until now centred on codeshare opportunities. Etihad had originally been interested in a 25% stake in Aer Lingus, which is already 29.4% owned by Ryanair and 25.4% by the Government of Ireland.
Its latest move could be seen as a stepping stone to buying a bigger portion; back in December, it raised its stake in Air Berlin from just under 3% to nearly 30%.