VA gets the tick for international plan

After receiving provisional approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for Virgin Australia's codeshare pricing arrangements with several international airline partners in May, the competition watchdog has this week formally cleared the carrier's international flight strategy for take-off.

THE ACCC approved VA’s “virtual” codeshare arrangements with partners such as United Airlines, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines for a period of five years, allowing its international airlines to set the fares for long-haul international flights that Virgin Australia can then market and resell to its customer base.

“More choice and greater convenience is likely to be the result for consumers, particularly those planning international trips that include connecting flights operated by VA,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

“There will be no competitive overlap between Virgin Australia and its international partners on any route under these proposed arrangements, and other airlines in the market will continue to compete with Virgin Australia and its partners on those particular long-haul international routes.

“Authorising these arrangements will likely promote competition in long-haul international services, by allowing Virgin Australia to re-establish its international operation in the longer term,” Keogh added.

The routes operated by potential partner international airlines identified by Virgin Australia to date include long-haul international routes between Australia and the United States, as well as Europe, various countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The news followed the celebration of VA’s strategic partnership launch with Qatar Airways, with the benefits of the tie-up set to significantly expand the networks, lounges and loyalty programs of both airlines, bringing substantial benefits and new destinations to travellers.

Members of Privilege Club can now earn Avios and QPoints on flights operated by Virgin Australia, while Velocity Frequent Flyer members can earn Velocity Points and Status Credits for flights operated by Qatar Airways.

Reward seats are also available to book on eligible services operated by both airlines, and from next week, eligible members of both loyalty programs will receive additional tier benefits, including priority check-in, priority boarding, and lounge access – irrespective of their class of travel.

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