Etihad Airways has doubled its stake in Virgin Australia to 10 per cent, six weeks after receiving the all clear from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). Etihad has also amassed minority stakes in overseas carriers Air Berlin, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus. The purchases are a way for Etihad to gain an edge over larger Gulf rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways. Other foreign entities with a significant stake in Virgin Australia, the country’s second-largest carrier, include Sir Richard Branson’s UK-based Virgin Group and Air New Zealand.
Etihad and Virgin Australia operate 24 flights per week between Australia and Abu Dhabi, which involves codesharing, reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and joint marketing. This opens up an alternative route for flights to Australia from Toronto, Chicago, Washington DC and New York – fly to Abu Dhabi for a short stopover or a few days, then continue on to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane or even New Zealand.
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Etihad doubles its Virgin Australia stake to 10%