PICTURES: V Australia launches inaugural flight to Abu Dhabi

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V Australia, the long-haul arm of the Virgin Blue Group, launched its inaugural flight to Abu Dhabi yesterday, becoming the first Australian carrier to operate to the Middle East in 20 years.

Pictured is the arrival of the Boeing 777-300ER at Abu Dhabi International Airport at 11.40pm GST last night. The Sydney-Abu Dhabi service included Virgin Blue Group CEO and managing director John Borghetti and Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan, along with the Australian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Doug Trappett.

 © V Australia

The new V Australia Abu Dhabi service is a key part of the partnership between Virgin Blue Group and Etihad Airways which will see the airlines offer a total of 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia - including double-daily services between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, daily Melbourne-Abu Dhabi flights and six frequencies per week between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane.

"Since its launch in 2009, the award-winning V Australia service has provided a high-quality, competitive travel option for travellers on trans-pacific routes and we're very pleased to bring our service to Abu Dhabi," Borghetti says.

V Australia will operate three Sydney-Abu Dhabi services per week from February 2011 and three Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services per week by February 2012, using its fleet of three-class Boeing 777-300ERs.

 © V Australia