The Virgin Blue Group has received interim
approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
(ACCC) for its alliance with Etihad Airways.
The approval by the ACCC means the airlines will
be able to sell airfares between Australia and Abu Dhabi with
connections on Etihad’s extensive network from 1 October 2010.
“The Virgin Blue Group of Airlines will now be
able to deliver an alternative and competitive network to the
Middle East, Europe, United Kingdom and beyond,” said Virgin Blue
Group CEO and Managing Director, John Borghetti. “This is an
important milestone as we create a global international network,
greater competition on the international landscape and benefit our
guests with great value fares, better scheduling and more choice.”
Together, Etihad and V Australia will move
towards a total of 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and
Australia – including double- daily services between Abu Dhabi and
Sydney, daily Melbourne-Abu Dhabi flights and six frequencies per
week between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane.
Subject to obtaining final regulatory approval
from the ACCC, V Australia will operate three Sydney-Abu Dhabi
services per week from February 2011 and three Brisbane-Abu Dhabi
services per week from February 2012, using its new fleet of
three-class Boeing 777-300ER.
From 1 October, Virgin Blue Group customers can
access Etihad’s network of 65 destinations across North America,
Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Subcontinent.
Blue Group services will also be available to Etihad customers, opening
up 45 destinations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific
Islands, and to Asia and Los Angeles.
The alliance also integrates the Etihad Guest
and Velocity frequent flyer programs, allowing members to earn
status/tier points and frequent flyer points immediately along
with reciprocal service benefits and lounge access for top tier
members of both programs. The ability for members to burn miles on
both carriers’ services comes into effect from 1 October 2010.
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