Virgin Blue Holdings Limited, who run both Virgin Blue and V Australia and Etihad Airways PJSC today signed an agreement to enable V Australia to fly into Abu Dhabi from 2011.
Virgin Blue’s agreement with Etihad will enable Virgin Blue’s international arm, V Australia, to launch direct services to Abu Dhabi in 2011, but will start delivering benefits to Virgin Blue customers as early as October 1st this year, with the two airlines offering a joint network of more than 100 destinations.
Etihad and V Australia will fly 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia once the partnership ramps up to full capacity, with twice-daily services between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, daily Melbourne-Abu Dhabi flights and six flights 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 777-300ER and becoming the first Australian carrier to operate to the Middle East since 1991.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Virgin Blue Group of Airlines, Mr John Borghetti, said the alliance with Etihad allowed it to redefine its long-haul operation and unlock a genuine global network that would be particularly attractive to Virgin Blue’s business and international leisure travellers.
“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.
Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Hogan, said the partnership would grow 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.