Virgin Blue, Etihad partnership will be a ‘real game changer’

Virgin Blue has today entered into a commercial partnership agreement with Etihad Airways which will enable V Australia to launch non-stop services to Abu Dhabi in 2011.

Under the new partnership agreement, the two airlines will offer a joint network of more than 100 destinations from October 1, this year.

V Australia will operate three weekly Sydney-Abu Dhabi services from February next year in addition to three weekly Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services by February 2012, using its new fleet of three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

The partnership agreement will also integrate the Etihad Guest and Velocity frequent flyer programs, effective from October 1.

This integration will allow members to immediately accumulate status/tier points and frequent flyer points along with reciprocal service benefits and lounge access for top tier members of both programs.

Virgin Blue Group CEO Mr John Borghetti said, “Everybody wins from this partnership. It increases competition, choice and convenience for the travelling public.

“Etihad will gain access to the valuable domestic feed in Australia and the Virgin Blue Group will gain east bound access to an extensive international network serving multiple destinations across the Middle East, the UK, Europe, Africa and Asia.

“This is a real game changer and positions us as a truly global player. Just as Virgin changed the game in domestic travel ten years ago and last year made huge impacts on the Pacific route, this agreement will bring real benefits for the travelling public.

“With the impending launch of our product enhancements across the group, Virgin Blue and Etihad are ideally suited as airline partners.”

Mr Borghetti said: “We expect the strategic alliance to have significant revenue and profit upside for both carriers. Importantly, each business will immediately gain from reciprocal traffic flow.”

Etihad Airways’ CEO, Mr James Hogan, said the new partnership is expected to become one of the Gulf carrier’s most significant.

“We 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.

 “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 market.” 

Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F
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