Virgin Blue Holdings Limited and Etihad Airways signed (26-Aug-2010) 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 airlines to offer a joint network of more than 100 destinations from 01-Oct-2010. V Australia plans to launch three times weekly Sydney-Abu Dhabi service in Feb-2011 and three times weekly Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services by Feb-2012, with B777-300ER equipment. Together, Etihad and V Australia will move towards a total of 27 weekly services beteen Abu Dhabi and Australia, including twice daily Abu Dhabi-Sydney, daily Melbourne-Abu Dhabi and six times weekly Brisbane Abu Dhabi services. From Oct-2010, Virgin Blue Group will have access to Etihad's network of 65 destinations, while all Virgin Blue's 45 destinations will be available to Etihad. The agreement also integrates the carriers' frequent flyer programmes. [more]
Virgin Blue: "This is a real game changer and positions us as a truly global player. Just as Virgin changed the game in domestic travel 10 years ago and last year made huge impacts on the Pacific route, this agreement will bring real benefits for the travelling public ... 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," John Borghetti, CEO. Source: Virgin Blue/Etihad Airways, 26-Aug-2010.