The competition watchdog has reauthorised the alliance between Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways for a further five years, with the two airlines promising more public benefits are to come from the deal.
The alliance, which operates between Australia and the Middle East, sees the two carriers cooperate on joint pricing and scheduling of services.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said the deal would continue to deliver public benefits by promoting competition and enhancing products and services offered to customers.
For example, Virgin Australia’s Sydney-Abu Dhabi service came about as part of the deal.
“The ACCC accepts that Virgin would not operate services to Abu Dhabi if this partnership with Etihad did not exist,” he said.
“Virgin could not offer a viable service on this route without offering the connections available on Etihad’s network within the alliance.”
Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti welcomed the ACCC’s acknowledgement of the public benefits of the alliance.
“Together with our alliance partner Etihad Airways, we look forward to continuing to bring choice and competition for Australians travelling between Australia, the Middle East and beyond to Europe,” he said.
“Since the launch of the alliance five years ago, we have introduced more codeshare destinations, delivered further enhancements to the customer experience and more than doubled seat capacity between Australia and Abu Dhabi.”
Meanwhile, Etihad president and chief executive James Hogan described it as 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,” he said.
“We are two best-in-class airlines, working together to offer a superior level of comfort and service; like-minded brands committed to putting the air traveller first through innovation and a shared passion for excellence.”