The existing alliance between Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia is set to continue for a further five years, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approved an extension to the partnership.
Both carriers currently cooperate on the Australia–Abu Dhabi route, and the decision will allow the partners to continue to do so until December 30, 2020.
Etihad Airways president and chief executive James Hogan welcomed the ACCC’s ruling, stating that the announcement represented a real win for Australian travellers.
“In the first five years of the alliance, we’ve shaken up the competitive landscape by delivering more destinations, more capacity and an unrivalled guest experience through new, state-of-the-art aircraft and major investments in product and service innovations,” said Hogan.
“Over the next five years, our focus will be on new areas of commercial cooperation with Virgin Australia and opportunities for increased public benefit.”
The ACCC noted that the partnership is important to foster competition in the Australian market, as it gives Virgin Australia the means to effectively compete with fellow Aussie carrier Qantas who enjoys close ties with Gulf carrier Emirates.
As per the agreement, Etihad and Virgin will cooperate on pricing as well as the scheduling of their services. However, it will not encompass revenue sharing.
Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia currently codeshare on flights to 38 international destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, as well as a further 52 destinations in Australia and Asia. Etihad Airways also holds a 25.1 per cent stake in Virgin Australia.