Virgin Blue and Eithad Airways
today announced a major commercial Partnership that will see the code sharing
of services and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits when flying on each other’s
frequent flyer programs.
The full media release from
Virgin Blue and Etihad Airways can be read below:
VIRGIN BLUE GROUP ANNOUNCES MAJOR
NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH ETIHAD
- V Australia to operate from
Sydney to Abu Dhabi 3 times a week
- Seamless connections across
Europe, UK and the Middle East
- Etihad Guest and Velocity
frequent flyer programs to be fully reciprocal
Virgin Blue Holdings Limited
(ASX: VBA) and Etihad Airways PJSC today signed 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 two airlines to offer a
joint network of more than 100 destinations from October 1, 2010.
Together, Etihad and V Australia
will move towards a total of 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia
– including double-daily services between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, daily
Melbourne-Abu Dhabi flights and six frequencies per week between Abu Dhabi and
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 Group
customers can access Etihad’s network of 65 destinations across North America,
Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Subcontinent. All Virgin Blue services
will be available to Etihad customers, opening up 45 destinations in Australia,
New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and to Asia, South Africa and Los Angeles.
The agreement integrates the
Etihad Guest and Velocity frequent flyer programs, allowing members to earn status/tier
points and frequent flyer points immediately along with reciprocal service
benefits and lounge access for top tier members of both programs. The ability
for members to burn miles on both carriers’ services comes into effect from
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 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
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.
Mr Hogan said that by
partnering across global and regional routes, Etihad and Virgin Blue Group
could offer a comprehensive network to customers while realising significant,
complementary benefits for the two airlines.
“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.”
Under the agreement, the two
airlines will explore further avenues of cooperation, and will lodge an
application for authorisation with the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission to allow them to cooperate across a broad range of commercial
functions. It is only with this further cooperation that the airlines will be
able to offer the full program of benefits the partnership will bring.