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Virgin Blue and United Airlines open up the skies with code share agreement

Travel News Asia 21 October 2002

Australians now have more choice for travel to the United States (US) with the code share agreement between major international airline United Airlines and Australian domestic low fare airline, Virgin Blue on flights from Brisbane to Sydney. The United/Virgin Blue code share flights are now available, with the first service operating on 27 October.

Passengers flying from Brisbane to the US on both airlines, can now enjoy the convenience of United Airlines flight codes and the benefits of accruing frequent flyer points on both the domestic and international legs of the journey. The code share will be extended to other Australian cities over coming months.

United Airlines, General Manager, Australia, Stephen Pearse, said the agreement would provide greater choice and frequent flyer benefits for Australians travelling to the US.

"Both Virgin Blue and United Airlines are focused on giving customers the freedom of choice for air travel, which is what this code share agreement will do," Mr Pearse said.

"Importantly, the code share will also enable our valuable frequent flyers and members of Star Alliance frequent flyer programs to accrue Mileage Plus points on the Australian domestic routes to the US, as well as on the international sector and beyond flights when flying United.

"For travel agents, the code share will make it faster and easier for booking flights from Brisbane to San Francisco and Los Angeles and beyond."

Virgin Blue Chief Executive Brett Godfrey said the agreement is another step to ensure that every segment of the Australian market is not subject to a monopoly.

"With this new service, Virgin Blue can address the needs of inbound tourism as well as Australian's travelling abroad, without compromising the highly efficient, service minded and cost effective business model we operate," Mr Godfrey said.

Mr Pearse said the agreement would contribute to United's overall plans for its business in Australia.

"For United, the code share will enable us to improve our offering to the Australian market," Mr Pearse said.

"As the only US airline offering daily services from Australia to the US, United is recognised as the premium airline for travel to the US across the Asia Pacific and this code share will enable us to continue providing greater customer choice."

Brett Godfrey said the agreement was part of Virgin Blue's business expansion plans.

"The Brisbane code-share is the first step in developing a world class international product. It's all about fair competition and opening up the skies to provide travellers with choice, which are the core values of Virgin Blue."

Virgin Blue currently services every State and Territory in Australia with its fleet of 17 aircraft, including the brand new Next Generation Boeing 737 aircraft, Virgin Blue was recently named "best low fare airline - Australasia" in the Skytrax Airline of The Year 2002 survey, the industry's leading passenger survey.

United flies daily from Sydney to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and from Melbourne, via Sydney to both US cities. United offers about 1,900 flights a day on a route network that spans the globe.

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