Virgin Blue Holdings and Etihad Airways today
signed an agreement establishing a commercial partnership that
will enable Virgin Blue’s international arm, V Australia, to
launch direct services to Abu Dhabi in 2011 and the two airlines
to offer a joint network of more than 100 destinations from 1
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.
V Australia will
operate three Sydney-Abu Dhabi services per week from February
2011 and three Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services per week by February
2012, using its new fleet of three-class Boeing 777-300ERs.
From October, Virgin Blue Group customers will
be able to
access Etihad’s network of 65 destinations across North
America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the subcontinent. All
Virgin Blue services will be available to Etihad customers,
opening up 45 destinations in Australia, New Zealand and the
Pacific Islands, and to Asia, South Africa and Los Angeles.
The agreement 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.
Etihad Airways’ Chief
Executive Officer, Mr James Hogan, said the partnership would grow
to become one of the Gulf carrier’s most significant.
are excited to facilitate the entry of V Australia into Abu Dhabi
as the first Australian airline to fly to the United Arab
Emirates ... Australia is a critically important market for
Etihad and we are very pleased to be able to provide more capacity
on our Australian routes through this partnership,” he said.
Hogan said that by partnering across global and regional routes,
Etihad and Virgin Blue Group could offer a comprehensive
network to customers while realising significant, complementary
benefits for the two airlines.
“With our combined route
network, we will provide all-important access from Australia to
both the USA and Europe, which improves our suitability for
both business and leisure travel and puts us right in the race for
major corporate travel accounts,” he said. “Virgin Blue is
fundamentally reshaping itself and, much like Etihad, they have
made huge strides in a short space of time. We know there are
huge opportunities in working together very closely in this
Under the agreement, the two airlines will explore
further avenues of cooperation, and will lodge an application
for authorisation with the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission to allow them to cooperate across a broad range of
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