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Etihad replaces Virgin Australia Abu Dhabi flights February-April

By John Walton     Filed under: Etihad, V Australia, abu dhabi, Virgin Australia

Etihad Airways will take over Virgin Australia flights between Sydney and Abu Dhabi from 6 February to 10 April, as Virgin's Boeing 777-300ER jet which flies the thrice-weekly route undergoes a routine maintenance check.

Virgin Australia partner Etihad will step up to cover Virgin's schedule, so the timings of the VA29 (EY451) and VA30 (EY450) flights won't change.

Etihad's replacement Boeing 777-300ER has business and economy class cabins -- but not premium economy, which is part of the regular Virgin Australia offering.

"Premium Economy Class guests will be accommodated in Business Class on Etihad Airways" a Virgin Australia spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller.

That sounds like a good deal to us, and maybe even a good reason for travellers who are yet to book on VA29 and VA30 to buy a Premium Economy ticket.

The swap is also happy news for business class passengers: Etihad's fully flat seats all have direct aisle access, meaning that nobody needs to clamber over you.

Etihad uses the "staggered fully flat bed" layout rather than the "forward facing fully flat bed" Virgin Australia long-haul international option in business class.

(For more on those seats, check out our photo guide to business class seats and cabin layouts.)

An added benefit for business class passengers is the lack of first class on Etihad's Boeing 777 planes, meaning that they'll be further forward on the plane, which will mean a quieter ride to and from Abu Dhabi.

If your timetable is flexible by a day or so, you might want to snag a seat on the replacement flights, which leave Sydney on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, returning from Abu Dhabi on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Virgin Australia jet's maintenance period could also see the 777 upgraded to Virgin Australia's new business class cabin, which is expected to debut before mid-year.


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.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 23/1/12 by AirportAddict

So no Australian airline goes to the middle east anymore!?

1 on 3/2/12 by AirportParty

nup, which is a bit stupid due to ever increasing markets over there. 33.8% of Australia's Airlines sales had been coming from that area, which is about a third, so it will have quite a large impact on the industry.

2 on 23/1/12 by rob1984

Virgin is still flying there, they aren't withdrawing from the market. EY is only covering the flying while the aircraft is in maintenance.  

1 on 23/1/12 by AirportAddict

Sorry yes. Will the new refitted 777-300ER actually have Premium Economy tho? Why dont they just have Economy, Business, and first?

3 on 23/1/12 by am

Big downgrade for Y pax... EY is a 3-4-3 airline, while VA uses 3-3-3...

1 on 23/1/12 by tronixstuff

Ouch! I hope they notify their economy passengers of this and offer an alternative. 

4 on 23/1/12 by jetsetter86

The Premium fares on the replacement flights are comparable to J fares.

5 on 23/1/12 by jordanmyer-smith

Ben Sandilands is asking the all important question over on plane talking as to what they are doing with the A/C for such a long time. It is widely know that a new J and possibly Y+ cabin will be installed in addition to empower outlets for economy. Anyone have any other insider info in regards to what is planned? How about a "What we want in the refurbished Virgin Australia 777s" article John?

6 on 23/1/12 by airtraveladdict

Great story but don't get your hopes up because the PE fares are not available on the Virgin Australia website, when you try to book, its J class fares they are selling.

A PE fare is normally $3500, but the J class fare is approximately $7,000, which is the same price as J class any other day.

7 on 24/1/12 by swan2281

Virgin Australia should use its 777-300 on more international flights. The problem with Virgin Australia is that it lacks international airfares. I don't want to book my flights on Virgin and fly Etihad. I'd personally like to see them re-open the Phuket and Nadi flights plus offer us more destinations like China, Vietnam etc. This is the reason I choose to fly Qantas and other Airlines, however when I travel to the USA, I choose Virgin.

1 on 24/1/12 by AirportAddict

I think we will have to wait for their new 777 product that they will release in april or whenever it is. They may announce a few new routes when they release their fully refurbished 777s. Do you think?

1 on 24/1/12 by swan2281

I really hope so, but for now their target may just be aimed at domestic travel.

8 on 26/1/12 by schlaffa

yep I'm on travelling Y+ on Virgin to Abu Dhabi ... on Feb 2nd ... doh! any chance of sending the tail into the hanger early? ;)


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