PO Box 35566, Head Office, Khalifa City A,
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, said today that it was pleased at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) draft determination proposing to grant authorisation for an alliance between Etihad and Virgin Blue.
The alliance between Etihad and Virgin Blue offers customers a combined global flight network of more than 100 destinations, connecting passengers between Australia and Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and North America.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways' Chief Executive Officer, said: "We are delighted by the draft determination, and are confident that this alliance will promote competition and generate benefits for travellers.
"Partnering with Virgin Blue enables Etihad to offer customers 45 new destinations across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and opens a host of new connections and routings to Australian travellers via Abu Dhabi.
"With our frequent flyer programs working together, Etihad and Virgin Blue offer a compelling travel option for corporate travel accounts worldwide, and we look forward to focusing on this important segment."
Under the integrated Etihad Guest and Velocity frequent flyer programs, members of either program can already earn and redeem status/tier points and frequent flyer points, and take advantage of reciprocal service benefits and lounge access available to top tier members.
Within its approval summary statement, the ACCC said: "...it [the ACCC] considers that the Alliance is likely to promote competition in the relevant markets and result in benefits for Australian consumers through new international services, increased online connections, enhanced value added services and stimulation of tourism."
From February 2011, Virgin Blue's international arm, V Australia, will launch direct services to Abu Dhabi. This will mean Etihad and V Australia will operate a total of 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia.
These services include double-daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, daily between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne, and six frequencies per week between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane.