The airline said the purchase of the 2.987 per cent stake reflected its desire to forge a commercial partnership with the Irish national carrier.
“Etihad Airways believes a possible partnership could produce significant commercial benefits for both airline,” the airline said in a statement.
The Irish Times reports that Aer Lingus is in talks with Etihad in relation to reciprocal code-sharing arrangements.
It also reports that the two airlines are investigating the possibility of joint procurement opportunities.
Etihad’s acquisition of Aer Lingus shares, however small, is likely to fuel increased speculation about a more formal link between the two airlines, with the UAE carrier interested in the Irish Government’s 25 per cent stake.
Etihad Airways operates 10 flights a week from Abu Dhabi to Dublin and has carried more than 750,000 passengers between the two capitals since it began flying the route in July, 2007.
It also recently renewed its sponsorship of the GAA, signing a five-year deal