Virgin Blue formally applies to codeshare with Etihad

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Australia's Virgin Blue group has applied to authorities to allow it to codeshare with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, following regulators' approval of an alliance between the two airlines.

In an application to Australia's International Air Services Commission, the carrier asked for permission to begin a codeshare arrangement as a marketing carrier on Etihad's flights.

It also asked for approval for Etihad to place its code on services operated by Virgin Blue's long-haul subsidiary V Australia between Australia and Abu Dhabi.

"For many of the proposed codeshare services V Australia will operate as a marketing carrier under air services agreements which do not require a specific allocation of capacity from the commission," says Virgin Blue.

However, it requires an allocation from the commission for codeshare services between Australia and Thailand, France, Greece and Bangladesh, it adds.

Australia's competition watchdog approved the airlines' alliance last month, which will allow the carriers to work together on pricing and scheduling of services across their networks.

V Australia plans to begin a thrice-weekly Sydney-Abu Dhabi service from February 2011, and a thrice-weekly Brisbane-Abu Dhabi service from February 2012.

Virgin Blue, which is seeking approval from the commission to begin the Sydney service, says it will submit another application later to begin the Brisbane flights.

In a separate application, Virgin Blue also asked the commission to allow its subsidiary Pacific Blue to codeshare with Etihad on Pacific Blue's flights between points in Australia and Auckland and Christchurch.