Etihad interest in Virgin Atlantic

terest in buying a stake in or partnering Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Founder Sir Richard Branson said last week he was considering taking a new airline partner or selling some of his stake in Virgin Atlantic to ensure its survival. Branson’s Virgin Group holds 51% of the carrier, with Singapore Airlines owning the remaining 49%.

Branson and Singapore Airlines appointed Deutsche Bank last year to investigate options for Virgin Atlantic as the carrier remains outside the system of airline alliances, such as British Airways’ Oneworld group, which increasingly enjoy anti-trust immunity.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad is reported to have expressed “top-level interest” in Virgin Atlantic, with sources suggesting Etihad chairman James Hogan wrote to Deutsche Bank recently.

US carrier Delta Air Lines has also expressed interest in the carrier. Branson has made clear he would prefer to retain control of Virgin Atlantic. However, Singapore Airlines is believed ready to sell its holding in the carrier, bought for £600 millio