Virgin Australia has revealed that Singapore Airlines will be its new Asian partner, with both airlines entering into a 'long-term' alliance in a severe blow to Qantas' already-ailing international arm.
The partnership will encompass single-ticket sharing of flights and routes including Singapore Airline's low-cost sibling SilkAir; reciprocal access to each airlines' lounges; and also to the airlines' respective frequent flyer programs of Virgin Australia Velocity and Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer.
Both airlines will coordinate their schedules and work on 'seamless connections' between the carriers.
Members of Virgin Australia's Velocity frequent flyer programme will be able to earn and redeem miles on flights operated by Singapore Airlines, while SQ's KrisFlyer can do likewise when flying with Virgin Australia.
Virgin Australia Velocity Gold members and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold members will have reciprocal access to each airline’s airport lounges.
The agreement also raises the prospect of Virgin Australia joining the Star Alliance, which is the world's largest airline alliance but has lacked any local footprint since Ansett collapsed in 2001. Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand, both of which are now Virgin Australia partners, are also members of Star Alliance.
The Singapore Airlines alliance mirrors those with Virgin Australia already has in place with Etihad and Air New Zealand, while a similar agreement with US carrier Delta is awaiting final approval from the US government.
"Asia is clearly a critical market for us as we build our international alliance network" Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said in a statement.
"Singapore Airlines’ extensive network throughout Asia will be particularly attractive to our international business and leisure travellers and this partnership, along with our other alliances, will mean Virgin Australia can now offer truly global flight coverage."
This morning's news comes just one day after MAS, which already has a points-sharing agreement with Virgin Australia and was touted as a potential Asian partner for the airline, announced its entry into the oneworld alliance backed by Qantas.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.