Air New Zealand's move to increase its stake in Virgin Australia is a clear signal of the faith it has in chief executive John Borghetti's "game on" strategy, despite the difficulties that the latter has faced over the last year.
Subject to regulatory approval, the Star Alliance carrier will take a further 3% stake in Virgin, taking its total shareholding to just under 23%.
That once again makes it the largest shareholder in Virgin, slightly above the 19.9% owned by Singapore Airlines.
It has also signalled that it may use provisions available in Australian law to gradually increase its stake by the same amount every six months without having to trigger a takeover offer.
ANZ chief executive Christopher Luxon explained at the recent IATA annual general meeting in Cape Town that its stake in Virgin is a key part of the airline's portfolio.
"We have a strong domestic business, we have a strong trans-Tasman business, we now have a profitable international business and the fourth sort of cylinder in our engine is really getting economic exposure to a large and connected market, and an economically important market in Australia," he told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting.
The additional share purchase also comes after Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways bought more shares on the open market to take its stake in Virgin up to 9%, which followed SIA's purchase of a block of shares from Virgin Group to take its stake to 19.9% in early May.
The latter transaction has led to a lot of speculation that there may be a tussle between the various airline shareholders, especially Etihad and SIA, both of which have alliances with Virgin that have some overlap on European routes.
From the ANZ perspective though, Luxon says SIA's move to increase its stake in the Australian carrier is a good move for all concerned.
"We're not really worried about that, that's a very positive thing I think," he says. "Both shareholders are quite complementary. We don't compete directly and we're actually both well-resourced, well-cashed up shareholders."
Nevertheless, he adds that ANZ is not pressing to take a seat on the board of Virgin.
"At this stage, that is something we have decided we don't need," says Luxon. "We have the relationship managed incredibly well through the executives. John Borghetti and I talk very regularly."
Those conversations appear to have given Luxon the confidence that the airline is a good long-term investment, despite some recent challenges to Virgin's bottom line.
The carrier reported a 56% fall in profit for the six months to the end of December last year as a result of lower yield in the domestic market. In May, the carrier issued a warning that its full-year profit would be lower than the A$82.5 million ($78 million) recorded last year.
The latter announcement was not well received by the financial markets, with Virgin's share price falling to a low of A$0.38, although it has now recovered to around the A$0.45 level.
ANZ's buy of a bigger stake in Virgin seems to have, at least in Luxon's mind, validated John Borghetti's efforts to transform the former budget carrier into a formidable competitor to Qantas.
The latest phase of that has recently played out with Virgin closing the acquisition of regional carrier Skywest Airlines in April, while it has also received clearance from the authorities to buy a 60% stake in loss-making budget carrier Tiger Airways Australia.
For its part, Qantas has been doing its best to ensure that the now enlarged Virgin group does not intrude too far across its famed "line in the sand" of 65% market share. Last year, the Qantas Group injected capacity into the Australian domestic market during the second half, which led to a dilution of yields for both airline groups.
Qantas also recently received approval from New Zealand competition authorities for its alliance with Emirates on trans-Tasman routes, possibly signalling a new round of competition to squeeze both ANZ and Virgin could be around the corner.
For the moment though, ANZ has shown that it has confidence in Virgin's prospects.