Etihad mulls a bid for Virgin Atlantic

THE head of Etihad Airways has written to Virgin Atlantic to express “top level interest” in taking over the airline, according to reports at the weekend.

Sir Richard Branson’s airline hired Deutsche Bank last year to look at options for the company, which could include a merger or takeover.

Etihad, which is based in Abu Dhabi and is chaired by Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, refused to confirm reports in the Sunday Times.

“We have no comment other than that we talk regularly and frequently to many airlines and a range of other businesses from all over the world about business issues and opportunities,” said a spokesperson for Etihad.

Virgin said it continued to work with Deutsche Bank to assess growth opportunities. “This study is at a very early stage so there is no further comment to make at this time,” a spokesperson said in an e-mail.

Branson said recently that he might sell his 51 per cent in the carrier. The remaining 49 per cent is owned by Singapore Airlines.