Middle East carrier Etihad Airways has confirmed the acquisition of a minority stake in Aer Lingus.

The national airline of the United Arab Emirates has acquired a 2.9% shareholding in the Irish carrier. Etihad said the purchase “reflected its desire to forge a commercial partnership” with Aer Lingus.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier said that “a possible partnership could produce significant commercial benefits for both airlines”.

Etihad operates 10 flights a week from Abu Dhabi to Dublin and has carried more than 750,000 passengers between the two capitals since it began flying the route in 2007.

The airline has a premium lounge at Dublin Airport, an engineering maintenance facility and has conducted recruitment drives across the country. It also recently renewed sponsorship of the Gaelic Athletic Association, signing a five-year deal.

Etihad Airways has strategic codeshare partnerships with 34 airlines around the world. The UAE airline took a 29% stake in Airberlin in December and has an equity stake in Air Seychelles.