Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti stated the carrier will go to any lengths to convince regulators to approve its proposed alliances with Delta Air Lines and Air New Zealand (AAP, 20-Sep-2010). Mr Borghetti said the preliminary rejections from US Department of Transport and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) were “very disappointing”, but he believes the carrier has a “very strong case” for the alliances. Virgin plans to discuss the Air New Zealand deal with the ACCC in the next two weeks. On whether Virgin would consider appealing to the Competition Tribunal if the ACCC makes a final decision to block the deal, he stated Virgin plans to address the matter one step at a time. Mr Borghetti also commented that he would be surprised if Virgin’s proposed alliance with Etihad Airways also gets knocked back.
Virgin Blue: “Whether it is a question of us not having explained it properly or the ACCC perhaps not having gone through it [properly] I don't know. All I know is we are grateful for the opportunity to go through it with the ACCC over the next 14 days. It is a matter of going through the process … I'm very confident that we can put our case forward. We'll go to whatever lengths we need to try and bring competition to the international network. If we are allowed to proceed with this alliance, we're going to bring that competition across more routes. To us, it's compelling. The over-arching issue is facilitating a process which will allow Australia to have a second airline with a truly global network and that's what this is about … We're going to have an Australian carrier, for the first time in a long time, flying to the Middle East non-stop. It's certainly not anti-competitive from my view because we're bringing capacity, we're bringing competition and of course the link with Etihad, which is by any measure one of the world's best airlines, opens up a whole global network for us in Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa,” John Borghetti, CEO. Source: AAP, 20-Sep-2010.