Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has increased its stake in Virgin Australia Holdings to 19.9 per cent, reaching the threshold set by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board in June 2013. The Abu Dhabi-based airline now holds more than 515 million shares in its equity partner airline following the numerous share purchases over recent weeks. James Hogan, CEO of Etihad Airways, said: “We are delighted to have reached this milestone. Increasing our equity in Virgin Australia will further enrich the commercial benefits which the partnership delivers for both airlines as well as increasing the benefits to Australian travellers and visitors to Australia. Those benefits include seamless connectivity to more than 40 codeshare destinations in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Thailand and loyalty programme privileges such as priority baggage handling, priority boarding and airport lounge access for top tier programme members." Combined, Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia operate 28 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and Australia and passengers have access to a combined global network of more than 280 destinations. Etihad also holds equity investments in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus; it will also acquire 49 per cent of Air Serbia from January 2014, and, subject to regulatory approval, 24 per cent of India’s Jet Airways.