Qatar Airways has acquired a 10 per cent stake in British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG), which is currently bidding to take over Irish airline Aer Lingus.
The Gulf carrier and IAG have committed to building closer ties, with Qatar open to raising its stake further in the future.
But it would be limited by an overall cap on non-EU ownership of European airlines at 49 per cent.
The move comes as IAG seeks to complete a £1bn (€1.33bn) deal to buy Aer Lingus, despite calls from politicians and airline employees for the Irish Government to block the bid.
The IMPACT trade union has warned that a total of 1,200 jobs could be lost at Aer Lingus if the airline is sold to British Airways owner IAG, as it claims the group has a history of cutting jobs after takeovers.
The Oireachtas transport committee held an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon to discuss the potential impact of Ireland’s national carrier being sold.
IMPACT's Matt Staunton said there were huge job losses when IAG was formed in 2011.
He told Ireland’s Newstalk radio: “In the absence of a detailed plan from IAG we can only assume the country will take the same approach as it did when Iberia merged with British Airways to form IAG.
“Iberia was forced to shed 4,500 jobs. Our estimate is adjusted for scale and takes account of the Greenfield planned redundancies, and analysts in Dublin and London confirmed that our figures are closer to the mark.”
IAG plans to operate Aer Lingus as a separate business, with the airline having its own brand, management and operations.