V-Australia launch direct services to Abu Dhabi in 2011
Virgin Blue and Etihad Airways have signed a partnership deal which will see V Australia launch direct services to Abu Dhabi in 2011. However, some of Virgin's flights will be axed, as the planes move onto the new routes.
V Australia will fly to Abu Dhabi in the Middle East but axe all of its loss-making flights to South Africa, a route on which it has been in competition with Qantas. V Australia's flights to Phuket in Thailand will also be replaced by its short-haul offshoot, Pacific Blue. It comes a week after the airline announced it would stop flying within New Zealand, while V Australia would be replaced on the Fiji route by smaller short-haul Pacific Blue aircraft.
The two airlines will fly a total of 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australian destinations including Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
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 Qantas axed the route in 1991. Etihad will operate the Sydney flight on the other four days, and also fly it's own dedicated service daily. Etihad will also fly to Brisbane three days a week, and will also operate fly daily from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi.