Pacific Blue's flights will be part of the new alliance

Virgin Blue Group’s alliance with Etihad Airways has been given final approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission just three weeks before the inaugural V Australia flight to Abu Dhabi.

Virgin Blue Group of Airlines Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director John Borghetti has welcomed the decision, saying it is “excellent news for Australian travellers and for the tourism industry”.

“We are very pleased to receive final ACCC approval for our exciting new partnership with Etihad, which will see us establishing an international hub in Abu Dhabi,” he said.“This will allow us to offer corporate and leisure travellers a very attractive one-stop service to more than 14 destinations in Europe, as well as the United Kingdom, the Middle East and Africa.

“The alliance is a key part of our strategy of building an international network with global coverage that complements our core domestic business. It will also provide guests with more opportunities to earn frequent flyer points and have more extensive lounge access,” he said.

V Australia will commence direct services to Abu Dhabi on 24 February 2011.

Meanwhile, Virgin Blue Group’s new ambassador and Australia’s most successful Olympian, Ian Thorpe, will be flying to Abu Dhabi on the launch flight on February 24, where he will continue training for the 2012 Olympic trials.

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