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Etihad eyes Irish government’s Aer Lingus stake

Etihad Airways has indicated an interest in the possibility of acquiring the Irish government’s quarter shareholding in Aer Lingus.

At the same time the Abu Dhabi-based carrier’s boss said it was not interested in offloading its 3% strategic shareholding in the Irish carrier.

The comments from chief executive James Hogan in the Financial Times come in the wake of Ryanair making a third takeover bid for its rival in six years.

Hogan said that Etihad was backing Aer Lingus’s current management and its strategy, saying: “We are not selling.”

He added: “Our equity investments are strategic and long term. We have invested due to our view of the Aer Lingus business model and the success the management are having implementing that model. We continue to support that management team.”

Hogan confirmed that Etihad was interested in the possibility of purchasing the Irish government’s 25% stake in Aer Lingus.

Etihad and Aer Lingus were also in talks about a possible code-sharing agreement.

Talks are also being held with Air France-KLM about code-sharing.

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