It looks like the codeshare agreement will continue between Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia with the release of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) draft determination approving the reauthorisation of its commercial cooperation agreement with Virgin Australia for a further five years.
This will enable Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia to continue codesharing on the Australia-Abu Dhabi route and offering reciprocal lounge and frequent flyer benefits beyond the current authorisation’s expiry date of 25th February 2016.
Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, said:
“Today’s announcement by the ACCC is great news for the partnership and for Australian travellers.
“In its first five years, the partnership between Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia has promoted vigorous competition in the Australian travel market, increasing choice for travellers, and has generated significant benefits and increased revenue for each airline through the alignment of our operations.
“Our shared commitment to innovation and superior service delivery ensures that travellers who fly on either airline enjoy an unrivalled guest experience and access to a combined network of 91 codeshare destinations.
“Our intention over the next five years is to expand our global reach and to enhance the guest experience for our shared customers.”
Under the current agreement, Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia offer codeshare services to 39 international destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, and to 52 destinations in Australia and Asia.
They also cooperate extensively in the areas of sales and marketing; purchasing and procurement; flight and cabin crew secondments; and offer reciprocal benefits to their frequent flyers including access to airport lounges across their combined networks.
With this codeshare agreement extended it will be interesting to see how flight prices compare to those booked with Emirates and Qantas – who have formed a global partnership. Let’s hope it opens up competition rather than a cartel.