Belfast Telegraph

Etihad wants Aer Lingus stake

By Thomas Molloy

Etihad Airways has said it's interested in buying Ryanair's 30% stake in Aer Lingus.

The Abu Dhabi carrier, which already owns 3% of Aer Lingus, would be "very happy to have that discussion," chief executive James Hogan claimed. "Dublin is a strong, profitable route for us and we're very keen to strengthen our partnership there."

Etihad has also had talks about buying the State's 25% stake in Aer Lingus which is being sold by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar as part of the government's privatisation programme.

Ryanair is currently engaged in a takeover bid for Aer Lingus but has already failed twice to buy the former flag carrier.

Aer Lingus has opposed the latest takeover, saying the EU will probably veto it on competition grounds.

The British authorities are currently examining Ryanair's stake in Aer Lingus and could force Michael O'Leary to sell the stake in future.

Etihad has already invested in Air Berlin, Virgin Australia and Air Seychelles.

Airlines from countries outside the EU are not allowed to own more than 49% of an EU airline.

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