Virgin Blue Group’s new international airline, V Australia and Dubai-based international airline, Emirates, today announced their first code share partnership, effective from 25 October on the trans-Tasman route.
Sydney, Australia – The announcement was made by Virgin Blue Group CEO and co-founder, Brett Godfrey, at a presentation to Australian media at the National Aviation Press Club (NAPC) in Sydney. Richard Jewsbury, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Far East and Australasia as well as Stephen Pearse, Emirates’ Vice President Australia joined Brett Godfrey at the NAPC event.
The code share agreement – Emirates’ first with an Australian carrier – signals yet another initiative in the airline’s commitment to Australia. It also confirms Emirates as V Australia’s first code share partner to be implemented.
V Australia will market the seats allocated to it under the code share agreement. The code share flights will be identified with the Emirates ‘EK’ code as well as with V Australia’s ‘VA’ code.
The new agreement will provide V Australia guests with seamless and quick transit times from the airline’s international flights arriving in Sydney to New Zealand. If they choose to spend time in Sydney, travellers are able to enjoy a stop-over in the New South Wales capital in either direction before continuing on their journey with V Australia or Emirates under their respective VA or EK code.
It will also allow guests traveling in V Australia’s International Business cabin to transfer to Emirates’ exceptional and parallel product featured on the wide-bodied Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 aircraft comprising ergonomically designed seats, award-winning entertainment spanning over 600 channels, a wide selection of gourmet meals prepared by world-renowned chefs with matching wines, and a mood-lighting ambience to reduce jet lag. Business class passengers can move from the in-flight bar on V Australia across to Emirates’ A380 where they can continue the theme and enjoy the onboard lounge complete with bar service.
Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey said, „Emirates is a highly regarded, world-class carrier and we are delighted to confirm Emirates as V Australia’s first code share partner. The two carriers are an ideal fit in that they share the same commitment to quality and service and we very much look forward to working further with Emirates.“
Richard Jewsbury, Emirates Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Far East and Australasia noted: „Emirates is prudent when it comes to choosing code share partners and our decision to join hands with V Australia is further demonstration of our commitment to the Australian aviation industry. We are pleased to finalise this agreement ahead of the peak summer travelling season, and expect the services to be extremely popular with leisure and business travellers seeking quick onward connections to and from V Australia’s international Sydney operations.“
Emirates offers a full-service, top-of-the-range product that aligns well with V Australia’s offering, and ensures a consistent high-quality experience on the entire New Zealand – USA journey“.
V Australia has retimed its flight schedule to ensure ideal connecting times between V Australia and Emirates flights.
For guests travelling from Auckland to Sydney and on to Los Angeles, the flight EK 413 departs Auckland at 6.45pm and arrives in to Sydney at 8.05pm for a quick 60 minute stretch of the legs before departing to LA on V Australia flight VA 1 at 9.05pm.
For guests travelling from Christchurch to Sydney and on to Los Angeles, the flight EK 419 departs at 5pm and arrives in Sydney at 6.20pm, to connect to VA 1 at 9.05pm.
On the return flight, guests arrive at 6.05am in Sydney on VA1 from Los Angeles will have a brief opportunity to stretch their legs for two hours and 50 minutes before connecting on flight EK412 at 8.50am to Auckland or EK418 at 10.15am to Christchurch.
For New Zealand travellers, it provides a streamlined trans-Pacific travel option with fares that will be up to 40% less than the existing fares between New Zealand and the USA.
Emirates and the Virgin Blue Group already share a strong partnership via reciprocal benefits within the two airline’s frequent flyer programmes, Skywards and Velocity respectively. Emirates is also an interline partner of Virgin Blue.
While still in its infancy, V Australia’s trans-Pacific flights, its product, people and competitive fares are already proving highly popular. In particular, business travellers, music and movie industry executives and celebrities are especially taken with V Australia’s unique Row 5 or „privacy suite“ offering, which provides travellers with discretion and privacy.
Brett Godfrey added, „Loads continue to improve and we are making inroads into the corporate market in the US because the product and service is turning heads. The V Australia team is also forging ahead with exciting plans for expansion into new markets, in particular Thailand and South Africa.“
V Australia has confirmed it will launch flights to Phuket from Brisbane and Melbourne in November this year (subject to regulatory approval) following the delivery of the airline’s fourth brand new 777-300ER aircraft direct from the Boeing factory in Seattle. Flights from Melbourne to Johannesburg will take off in March 2010 (subject to regulatory approval).
Brett Godfrey also outlined to the NAPC audience the strategy for Virgin Blue Group as it emerges from one of the most turbulent periods in aviation history.
„Core to our approach is working closely with reputable airline partners such as Emirates, to ensure V Australia continues to grow, and like Virgin Blue, become one of the most relevant, dynamic and innovative airlines operating in the aviation sector.“
Photo: Virgin Blue Group CEO and co-Founder; Brett Godfrey with Emirates’ Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Far East and Australasia / Virgin Blue Group