Etihad Airways president and chief executive James Hogan has left the door open to further equity investment in Aer Lingus.
The Abu Dhabi carrier boosted its stake in the Irish flag carrier to more than 4% earlier this month by acquiring more shares on the open market.
The Irish government has more than 25% of shares in Dublin-based Aer Lingus. Ryanair holds almost 30%, but this is set to change after the budget carrier failed with its legal challenge to a UK Competition Commission ruling that the stake must be reduced to 5%.
“We have a very good dialogue with the [Aer Lingus] board and that will continue,” says Hogan. “That’s all I can say.”
Hogan adds that Gulf Air, of which was he was previously chief executive, was the first Middle Eastern airline to fly to Ireland.
“Everybody said there was no market out of Ireland,” he recalls.
Etihad has grown to 10 flights a week and is now increasing capacity to 14 weekly flights: “Emirates are now doing 14 flights a week so obviously there is market from Ireland to the Middle East and beyond.”