Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad Airways says it will not comment on reports that it plans to buy a stake in Ireland’s flag carrier Aer Lingus.

Recent reports had suggested that Etihad Airways had approached the Irish government to buy its 25 per cent stake in the carrier. This follows Ireland’s announcement in September that it planned to sell its stake in an effort to cut national debt.

“We never comment on speculation of this nature except to say that we talk regularly and frequently to many airlines and a range of businesses from all over the world about issues and opportunities,” says an Etihad spokesperson.

Etihad Airways recorded a strong third quarter for 2011, with revenues of $1.1bn. Etihad Airways also recorded an 18 per cent increase in passenger traffic, to 2.2 million, in what proved to be the airline’s strongest ever third quarter. Etihad Airways is aiming to break even in 2011. It is also due to take delivery of another seven planes in 2012. The new aircraft includes four Boeing 777s and three Airbus A320s (MEED 5:10:11).