Etihad in no rush to get Virgin seat

Etihad chief executive James Hogan says there "is no pressing need" for his airline to gain a seat on Virgin Australia's board despite it looking to increase its cornerstone stake.

Etihad chief executive James Hogan says there "is no pressing need" for his airline to gain a seat on Virgin Australia's board despite it looking to increase its cornerstone stake.

Three days after Virgin warned it faces an annual loss of up to $110 million, Mr Hogan reiterated his support for its management's strategy, which is focused on turning the airline into an upmarket competitor to Qantas.

"They are just going through a tough patch," he said. "We believe in the strategy of Virgin Australia ... I think they have done a good job in the marketplace."

Mr Hogan said Etihad still wanted to raise its stake in Virgin to 19.9 per cent but it was yet to decide how quickly it would try to do so.

Etihad lifted its holdings in Virgin to 10.5 per cent last month, shortly after gaining approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board to go as high as 19.9 per cent. "The pace of that [likely increase in holdings] I can't determine, but we are committed to our strategy of working with Virgin Australia," he said.

Mr Hogan said he had not asked for a seat on Virgin's board. "At the end of the day the board has to ask you as a shareholder," he said. "The board of Virgin Australia are very competent. There is no pressing need for us to sit on the board, quite frankly."

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