Etihad open to Aer Lingus sell-off

Etihad Airways has signalled it would be willing to sell its stake in Aer Lingus if the Government backs the offer made by International Airlines Group (IAG) for the Dublin-based carrier.

The Financial Times reported that Etihad CEO James Hogan said the company’s investment in Aer Lingus would earn a great return if Dublin would approve the €1.35bn deal.

Representatives for Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and Aer Lingus were not immediately available for comment.

Etihad bought a 3% stake in Aer Lingus three years ago in order to gain more European routes and to catch up with Middle Eastern rivals.

A spokeswoman for IAG declined to comment.

Etihad bought an additional 4.9% stake in Aer Lingus last year and the recent comments will come as a boost to IAG CEO Willie Walsh, who has been in protracted talks with Dublin over the future of Ireland’s flag carrier, the Financial Times reported.

Mr Hogan also said Etihad has no plans to take any stake in Malaysian Airlines, which is led by former Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller, the newspaper said.

Media reports last year claimed that Malaysian Airlines was going to form a partnership with Etihad Airways as part of a rescue plan but the companies denied a deal was in the offing.

“We have a code share with Malaysia Airlines and it is a good relationship,” said Mr Hogan.

Etihad might be open to developing this further but it was not looking at equity stakes in any carrier at the moment, Mr Hogan told the Financial Times.



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