Etihad looks to expand network
Etihad's James Hogan. Picture: AP

Etihad Airways will add to its growth through investments in other airlines such as Virgin Australia, its chief says.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier has snapped up stakes in four different carriers this year, with Etihad Airways president and chief executive officer James Hogan saying the investments were about building growth and scale.

"It's about building on our organic growth over the next seven years," he said today.

"We see it as a way to compete. Aviation is changing."

Mr Hogan said the airline would be operating more than 71 aircraft to 86 cities and turn over in excess of $US5 billion ($A4.79 billion) by the end of this year.

"Over the next seven years we're taking 100 more aircraft," he said.

In June, the airline won approval to increase its stake in Virgin Australia, the nation's second largest carrier, from just under five per cent to 10 per cent.

Etihad announced in May it had acquired a stake of 2.987 per cent in Irish national carrier Aer Lingus, adding to its 30 per cent controlling interest in Germany's second-largest airline airberlin and 40 per cent holding in Air Seychelles, the island country's national carrier.

"Early days, but it's working well with Virgin, with airberlin, just starting with Aer Lingus and Air Seychelles of course," he said.

Mr Hogan said the airline wanted to make equity investments where the carrier terminated.

"In Australia you see the fantastic partnership with Virgin Australia, where we link into the network in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane," Mr Hogan said.

"They (the investments) enable us to stretch our network."

Etihad wants to be able to compete with Australia's national carrier Qantas, Mr Hogan said.

"We in fact fly to more cities, more international cities, than the national carrier does out of Australia," he said.

Etihad has 24 international flights out of Australia daily.

Etihad on Wednesday announced it would extend its contract over the naming rights for Melbourne's Etihad Stadium into 2019.

Mr Hogan said since becoming the stadium's sponsor in 2009, brand awareness of Etihad in Australia had increased.

The West Australian

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