Virgin Blue alliance marks Etihad’s fourth birthday

 - November 11, 2007, 7:29 PM

United Arab Emirates national carrier Etihad Airways celebrated its fourth birthday last week by introducing an interline agreement with Australian operator Virgin Blue that connects its 45-destination network with 22 Australian cities through Brisbane and Sydney. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad will increase frequency to Sydney from one daily flight to 11 flights a week next March; it flies to Brisbane three times a week.

Etihad expects to carry 4.5 million passengers this year at an average load factor of 68 percent across its fleet, which currently stands at 34 aircraft.  It flies to Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

In addition to its two new Australian destinations, this year has seen Etihad introduce service to Dublin, Ireland; Kathmandu, Nepal; Kochi, India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Milan, Italy; Singapore; and Thiruvananthapuram, India. Its new northern-winter schedule has increased weekly flights to 718, an increase of 29 percent from 12 months earlier. The new timetable includes a trebling of service to Muscat and a doubling of flights to Bahrain. The airline is owned by the government of Abu Dhabi and, like state-owned Qatar Airways, has been working hard to emulate the success of Dubai’s Emirates Airline–even to the point of ordering Airbus A380 very-large aircraft.