Etihad signs partnership with Virgin Blue Holdings

Codeshare deal adds 44 new destinations to Etihad's offering

Etihad CEO James Hogan: Australia is a critically important market.
Etihad CEO James Hogan: Australia is a critically important market.

UAE national carrier Etihad Airways effectively added 44 new destinations on Thursday by signing a codeshare agreement with the Australia-based Virgin Blue Group of airlines.

“All Virgin Blue services will be available to Etihad customers, opening up 44 new destinations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and Asia and Los Angles,” an Etihad statement said.

The codeshare agreement would come into effect from October, it added.

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The Virgin Blue Group of airlines comprises Virgin Blue, short haul international airlines Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue and long haul international carrier V Australia.

As a result of the deal, V Australia would become the first Australian carrier to operate to the Middle East since 1991, the statement said.

“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 Brisbane,” the statement added.

Speaking to Arabian Business, Etihad CEO James Hogan said: ““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. We currently fly about 450,000 people a year to Australasia, we think this deal will add about 100,000 to that figure.

“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 added the agreement would integrate the Etihad and Blue Group frequent flier programmes, allowing customers to "earn and burn" miles on all of the airlines involved in the deal.

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