Virgin Blue and Etihad Airways have received interim authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for their alliance.
The interim authorisation will now allow the two airlines to start selling joint fares on each others’ networks from October 1. The two carriers will integrate the Etihad Guest and Velocity programs, with members able to earn and spend points on both carriers from the same date.
“This is an important milestone as we create a global international network, greater competition on the international landscape and benefit our guests with great value fares, better scheduling and more choice,” said Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti.
The two carriers are awaiting full authorisation before V Australia will commence three times weekly services from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, while it is also planning to start Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services from February 2012.
The granting of interim authorisation is a significant achievement for Virgin Blue, which is currently trying to overturn interim decisions which would block its other proposed alliances with Delta Air Lines and Air New Zealand. The alliances are a key part of Borghetti’s “go forward” strategy for Virgin Blue which will also see it place a greater emphasis on the lucrative corporate market.