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Virgin Blue launches first V Australia flight to Abu Dhabi

24/02/2011
  • V Australia commences services from Sydney to Abu Dhabi 3 times a week
  • Seamless connections across Europe, UK and the Middle East
  • Australians benefit from fully reciprocal Velocity and Etihad Guest frequent flyer programs
 
Virgin Blue Group of Airlines will today launch the inaugural V Australia flight to Abu Dhabi, becoming the first Australian carrier to operate to the Middle East in 20 years.
 
The V Australia Abu Dhabi service is a key part of the new partnership between Virgin Blue Group of Airlines and Etihad Airways which will see the airlines offer a total of 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia. For Australian travellers, this means double-daily services to London and daily services to Frankfurt, Dublin and Manchester.
 
Virgin Blue CEO and Managing Director John Borghetti said the inaugural flight signalled a new era for Australians travelling to Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa.
 
“Australian travellers will now be able to fly one-stop to more than 14 destinations in Europe and the United Kingdom with a quick one-stop service. This means a range of more convenient travel options for Australians, more competition on key international routes and more opportunities for Virgin Blue and Etihad customers to earn frequent flyer points and status credits”, Mr Borghetti said.
 
“Since its launch in 2009, the award-winning V Australia service has changed the game for Australians travelling to the United States, providing a high-quality, competitive travel option. And that’s exactly what we’re looking to do with our new Abu-Dhabi service.
 
“IATA recently forecasted the Middle East as the top region for international passenger demand growth in the world at 9.4% over the next three years,” Mr Borghetti said.
 
Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer James Hogan said: “Etihad Airways and the emirate of Abu Dhabi eagerly await the arrival of the inaugural V Australia flight.
 
“Already, the response to our network partnership has been very positive. Forward bookings are strong and we are seeing increased strength in the market with the capability of round-the-world connectivity.
 
“Etihad deploys more than 15 per cent of its entire global network seat kilometres to Australia and we are committed to driving long-term, incremental inbound tourism growth to this market, and to offering greater choice and competition for inbound and outbound travellers.”
 
Virgin Blue Group CEO John Borghetti and Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan will both be on board V Australia’s first-ever Sydney-Abu Dhabi flight today, along with the Australian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Mr Doug Trappett, and Virgin Blue Group’s new ambassador and Australian Olympian Ian Thorpe, who is flying to Abu Dhabi to continue training for the 2012 Olympic trials.
 
The flight departs from Sydney at 4.05pm AEDT and is due to land in Abu Dhabi at 11.40pm GST, where it will be met by senior Abu Dhabi officials.
 
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 economically and environmentally efficient Boeing 777-300ERs. VA29 will fly from Sydney to Abu Dhabi on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, departing at 4.05pm and VA30 will fly from Abu Dhabi to Sydney on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, departing at 10.45am.
 
Virgin Blue Group’s partnership with Etihad Airways delivers a combined global network of more than 100 destinations worldwide. This partnership is a key part of Virgin Blue Group’s plans to build an international network of airline partners that can provide global coverage along with frequent flyer earn and redemption capabilities to benefit guests.