British Airways parent company is looking to buy the Irish flag carrier
Chief executive of Etihad Airways has indicated that the Abu Dhabi-based airline would be willing to sell its stake in Aer Lingus Group Plc, if the Irish government backs the offer made by International Airlines Group for the Dublin-based carrier, the Financial Times reported.
Etihad's James Hogan said the company's investment in Aer Lingus would earn a great return if Dublin would approve the €1.35 billion ($1.48 billion) deal, FT reported.
Representatives for Etihad and Aer Lingus were not immediately available for comment.
Etihad bought a 3 percent stake in Aer Lingus three years ago, in order to gain more European routes and to catch up with Middle Eastern rivals.
A spokeswoman for IAG declined to comment.
Etihad bought an additional 4.9 percent stake in Aer Lingus last year and the recent comments will come as a boost to IAG's chief executive who has been in protracted talks with Dublin over the future of Ireland's flag carrier, the Financial Times reported.
Hogan also said that Etihad has no plans to take any stake in Malaysian Airlines, which is led by former chief executive of Aer Lingus Christoph Mueller, the newspaper reported.
Media reports last year claimed that Malaysian Airlines was going to form a partnership with Etihad Airways as part of a rescue plan but the companies denied a deal was in the offing.
"We have a code share with Malaysia Airlines and it is a good relationship," he said. Etihad might be open to developing this further but it was not looking at equity stakes in any carrier at the moment, Hogan told FT.
Etihad secured European Union approval in November to acquire 49 percent of Italian airline Alitalia, which was the latest in a series of acquisitions made by the Abu Dhabi-based airline to expand its network around the world.