Virgin Australia is to debut its Airbus A330-200 on its first long-haul international missions from June 2017 when it introduces a three times weekly link between Perth and Abu Dhabi. Subject to regulatory approvals, the flight will operate in conjunction with its equity partner Etihad Airways and complement the UAE national carrier’s existing daily service on the city pair.
“Our A330 aircraft will be deployed on a long-haul international route for the first time on flights between Perth and Abu Dhabi, which increases the number of services offered on the route from seven to 10 per week through our alliance with Etihad Airways,” confirmed John Borghetti, chief executive officer, Virgin Australia.
As part of the Perth expansion, Virgin Australia will cease its existing three times weekly Sydney - Abu Dhabi flights from February 4, 2017, although Etihad will boost its own schedule from 11 to 14 weekly flights by adding additional morning departures from Abu Dhabi and afternoon departure from Sydney on its EY450 and EY451 services.
The combined impact of the additional Sydney capacity and Virgin Australia’s Perth shift will boost codeshare flights between the two airlines to 45 weekly rotations. “Australia is a critical part of our network, and we will continue to add capacity in order to meet the growing two-way demand for business and leisure travel,” said Peter Baumgartner, chief executive officer, Etihad Airways.
The new Virgin Australia service between Perth and Abu Dhabi will also open additional connection options for passengers travelling to and from the capital of Western Australia, with direct connections to 23 European, 15 Middle East and 10 African destinations. Newly connected two-way markets for Perth are Athens, Beirut, Geneva, Istanbul, and a number of African destinations including Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Khartoum and Nairobi.
“Virgin Australia’s announcement is great news for Western Australians, and people wanting to visit our great State,” said Kevin Brown, chief executive officer, Perth Airport. “This new direct service offers greater choice when travelling to Abu Dhabi, either as a final destination or for onward travel to Europe, the Americas and Africa.”
The close proximity of Terminal 2 (Regional), Terminal 1 (Domestic) and Terminal 1 (International) at Perth Airport will allow Virgin Australia passengers to transfer easily under one roof between regional, domestic and international services and will also open up additional connection options at this end of the route.
Virgin Australia is also launching a new five times weekly link between Melbourne and Los Angeles from April 4, 2017 using its Boeing 777-300ERs. This route will be facilitated by the closure of the Sydney – Abu Dhabi link and the reduction of Brisbane – Los Angeles schedules from seven to six flights per week from April 7, 2017.
“The United States is a key market for Virgin Australia and this enables us to service Los Angeles from the three biggest gateways in Australia – Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney,” said Borghetti. “In partnership with Delta Air Lines, we will soon offer 25 services each week from Australia to Los Angeles and remain the only trans-Pacific alliance to offer Business Class guests lie flat beds with direct aisle access on all services.”