Virgin Blue-Etihad alliance gets final approval

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Australian regulators have given its final approval for an alliance between Virgin Blue and Etihad Airways for five years.

The nod, which followed last year's tentative approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), will allow the airlines to cooperate on joint pricing and scheduling of flights across their network.

ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel says the alliance "is likely to promote competition and result in new international services, in particular between Australia and Abu Dhabi with onward connections to Europe".

Virgin Blue's long haul operations V Australia plans to begin direct services between Sydney and Abu Dhabi on 24 February, followed by Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services next February.