V Australia has become the first Australian carrier to serve the Middle East in 20 years, thanks to its joint venture alliance with Etihad Airways.
The alliance was sanctioned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission earlier this month, allowing the two carriers to cooperate on joint pricing and scheduling of services across their respective networks
As a result V Australia (aprt of the Virgin Blue Group) has launched thrice-weekly services between Sydney and Abu Dhabi, and will add three service per week from Brisbane by February 2012. The new flights means a total of 27 weekly services will be offered between Abu Dhabi and Australia between the two carriers.
V Australia will operate the route using B777-300ER aircraft, with flight VA29 departing Sydney on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 1605, and VA30 leaving Abu Dhabi on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1045.
The alliance means that passengers of both airlines will benefit from easier onward connections at Abu Dhabi and Australian cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and will also get reciprocal frequent flyer earn and redeem privileges and lounge access.
Qantas has not served the Middle East since the days before it started to operate the Boeing 747 jumbo, when Bahrain was used a stopover en route to Europe.
Report by Mark Caswell