Etihad, Virgin to launch Australia-Abu Dhabi flights
Australian airlines Virgin Blue and the United Arab Emirates-based Etihad Airways Thursday agreed to operate joint flight services between Abu Dhabi and Australia next year.
Etihad and Virgin Blue's international arm V Australia will operate 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia, including double-daily services between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, daily Melbourne-Abu Dhabi flights and six weekly fligths between Brisbane and Abu Dhabi.
According to the deal, 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.
From October, Virgin Blue passengers can access Etihad's network of 65 destinations across North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Virgin Blue Group of Airlines, John Borghetti, said the alliance with Etihad allowed it to redefine its long-haul operation and unlock a global network for Virgin Blue's international 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, James Hogan, said: '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.