Etihad Airways has welcomed the decision by the Australian Government to allow the airline to increase its equity stake in Virgin Australia Holdings to a maximum of 10%. Etihad Airways currently has a 4.99% stake in Virgin Australia, acquired earlier this year, and had applied to the Foreign Investment Review Board to raise the level of its investment.
The purchase was made following the development of a multi-tiered partnership between the two airlines that includes code-sharing on flights, joint marketing initiatives and reciprocal earn-and-burn on their respective frequent flier programmes.
Together, Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia currently operate 24 flights per week between Australia and Abu Dhabi, offering Australian travellers and visitors to Australia greater choice and access to a combined network of more than 285 global destinations.
The strategic partnership has already delivered significant revenues to each airline. It is expected that the equity stake in Virgin Australia will lead to further revenue-generating opportunities.
The first Etihad Airways flights from Sydney to Abu Dhabi took place in March 2007 and since then it has started flights from Brisbane and Melbourne, with plans for services from Perth in future. In total, nearly two million passengers have flown with Etihad Airways between Australia and its Abu Dhabi hub.