Posted by Bob Brunskill
Etihad Airways has signed a deal with Virgin Blue Holdings that will see the latter's international arm, V Australia, launch direct services to Abu Dhabi next year.
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.
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, thereby becoming the first Australian carrier to operate to the Middle East since 1991.
John Borghetti, chief executive officer of the Virgin Blue Group of Airlines, said the alliance with Etihad would allow his company 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.
"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," added Etihad chief executive officer James Hogan.