Virgin links up with Alitalia

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 11, 2016
Virgin's Direct LAX-MEL services will cease on Oct 25. (Rob Finlayson)
A Virgin Australian Boeing 777-300ER. (Rob Finlayson)

Virgin Australia is boosting its international network and frequent flyer program through a codeshare agreement and frequent flyer partnership with Alitalia.

Initially, Virgin will place its VA airline code on the Italian flag carrier’s flights from Abu Dhabi to Rome and Milan (Malpensa), which are operated by Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft.

Frequent flyer benefits would be announced at a later date, Virgin said on Monday.

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Virgin Australia chief commercial officer Judith Crompton said the codeshare would offer its passengers more choice for travel to Italy.

“We will continue to work closely with other international carriers to give our customers access to more destinations, more flights and more convenient schedules, as well as increased benefits for Velocity members,” Crompton said in a statement.

“We are very excited to partner with Alitalia and provide more choice to our customers travelling to Italy.

“Members of our Velocity Frequent Flyer program and Alitalia’s MilleMiglia program will soon benefit from the partnership.”

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Virgin currently codeshares on Etihad Airways’ services from Australia to to Rome and Milan via Abu Dhabi, as well as Singapore Airlines’ services to Milan Rome through Singapore.

The Australian carrier also offers three flights a week between Sydney and Abu Dhabi with Boeing 777-300ERs. However, those flights are currently suspended while Virgin’s 777 fleet undergo a cabin upgrade with new business class seats and a refreshed premium economy cabin that is due to be completed by the end of July.

Etihad became a 49 per cent owner of Alitalia after completing a 1.76 billion euro deal in August 2014 that also included a 560 million euro investment in the loss-making Italian airline.

Alitalia is a member of the Skyteam alliance and is also one of seven airlines that belong to “Etihad Airways Partners”, which brings together Etihad plus five other airlines in which Etihad holds equity stakes in – airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways and Swiss-based Darwin Airline (which operates as Etihad Regional).

It recently ended a frequent flyer arrangement with Qantas.

Etihad is also a 25.1 per cent shareholder in Virgin.

5 Comments

  • Peter

    says:

    Sounds like Etihad spreading its’ tentacles further. Good move on their part.

  • Freddie

    says:

    Hmmmm! Wonder how the shareholders will ‘like’ this venture ?

  • k lane

    says:

    Alitalia – surely more energy could be spent on an airline partnership that would add value
    Alitalia the queen of bailouts / subsidies / inefficient and effectual as an airline

  • Bart

    says:

    When will Virgin Australia start giving share holders some thing back for there loyalty???????

  • franz chong

    says:

    good on them.It’s funny though these days for the Italians heading home it’s either one of the Middle Eastern Carriers or Singapore Airlines that takes them now but from an economic point of view it makes more sense than flying an Alitalia plane through to Melbourne or Sydney when the same aircraft can be used elsewhere closer to home and be back within a day.

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