Virgin Australia partner Etihad will introduce connections from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam starting 15 May, and will expand its onward codeshare connections to over a dozen regional European economic hubs from the Dutch airport at Schipol.
While Amsterdam itself has been relatively well served by international airlines, the arrival of Etihad's Airbus A330 aircraft — with the same fully flat beds and direct aisle access in business class as you'd find on the long haul from Australia to Abu Dhabi — will mean a more comfortable trip for more of your journey.
And you'll have the benefits of connecting to thirteen additional onward KLM destinations via the pleasant and modern hub at Amsterdam Schipol, one of the better airport options among the European hubs.
Etihad is placing its EY flight codes on flights from Amsterdam to regional economic centres in Aberdeen, Barcelona, Bergen, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Leeds/Bradford, Madrid, Nice and Stockholm. That's in addition to the current Etihad/KLM codeshare flights to Billund, Cardiff, Newcastle, Oslo, and Stavanger.
(Yes, resource sector readers: that's a whole raft of new two-hop connections to oil and gas hubs.)
Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyers will be able to earn points and status credits on the Etihad leg, but not on the KLM-operated flights. Like most frequent flyer schemes, you can't earn points and status credits when you're flying on a partner airline's partner airline.
In terms of timings, Etihad flight EY77 will leave Abu Dhabi at 0930, arriving in Amsterdam at 1340. It will then return as EY78 at 2200, arriving back in Abu Dhabi at 0635.
The flights connect from the daily Etihad EY455 from Sydney and back to the daily Sydney-bound Etihad EY450/Virgin Australia VA30 services with a four hour layover in each direction.
As part of the deal, KLM will also increase its Amsterdam-Abu Dhabi services to daily — but watch out, the business class isn't as comfortable and you won't earn Velocity points if KLM is doing the flying.
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About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.