Ireland’s Aer Lingus will be selling part of its equity holdings to Etihad Airways, a UAE-based national airline.
Etihad has acquired a 2.99 percent holding in the Irish airline recently for an undisclosed amount, and intends to work closely with the Irish airline to enter into probable code share agreements, and joint procurements.
Etihad Airways is currently offering around 10 flights a week from Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, to Dublin, in Ireland and has ferried around 750,000 passengers between the two destinations since commencement of the route in July 2007.
Etihad has a premium lounge at Dublin Airport, maintains an engineering maintenance facility in Ireland, and has recently entered into an agreement to renew its sponsorship of the Gaelic Athletic Association, an Ireland-based sports and cultural association.
Aer Lingus said in a statement that Etihad does not intend to acquire more of a stake in the airline company, and will be focusing on reciprocal code-share opportunities, stating, ‘Future discussions may explore additional commercial and cost opportunities to develop a closer working relationship in areas such as joint procurement.’
Etihad, in the statement, said, ‘the purchase reflected its desire to forge a commercial partnership with the Irish national carrier’ and it believes, ‘a possible partnership could produce significant commercial benefits for both airlines.’
Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, is also an investor in Aer Lingus and owns a 30 percent stake in the airline.
Ryanair chief executive officer, Michael O’Leary, said, ‘The future of Aer Lingus can only be decided when or if the Irish government sells its 25 percent stake. If this is sold to Etihad or to a financial investor, then it is inevitable that Aer Lingus will be broken up and some or all of its Heathrow slots lost to Ireland.’