The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted its final approval of Virgin Blue and Etihad’s planned alliance to cooperate on joint pricing and scheduling of services across their networks.
“The ACCC considers that the alliance is likely to promote competition and result in new international services, in particular between Australia and Abu Dhabi with onward connections to Europe,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said.
In granting the authorisation, which provides immunity from court action that otherwise might be pursued under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, the ACCC notes the two airlines do no currently compete, and so “ the alliance is unlikely to result in any anti-competitive detriments.”
In a media statement Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti welcomed the approval. “The alliance is a key part of our strategy of building an international network with global coverage that compliments our core domestic business.”
Virgin Blue’s V Australia arm will launch direct Sydney-Abu Dhabi services on February 24.
The ACCC issued a draft determination approving the deal in December.