Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines intend to add new routes to their alliance and introduce larger aircraft on existing services to boost capacity, as the first firm details of the proposed partnership emerge.
Documents tendered to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) by both carriers list a series of new 'city pairs' under consideration by the airlines, although these have been blanked out from public issue as being 'commercial-in-confidence'.
Singapore Airlines already flies from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to Singapore. However, Virgin Australia will not codeshare with Singapore Airlines on cities where it has an existing arrangement with Etihad, such as Brisbane.
"While the alliance will provide Virgin Australia with the ability to codeshare on Singapore Airlines services between Brisbane and Singapore, Virgin Australia has an existing codeshare with Etihad on this route" the submission notes. "Virgin Australia does not intend to codeshare with both airlines on this route."
The proposal also outlines plans to boost passenger capacity by introducing 'larger aircraft' on flights between Australia and Singapore.
Given that John Borghetti has a stronger focus on building out Virgin Australia's 'virtual network' rather than bulking up the fleet, this could mean Singapore Airlines upgrading some of its current Australia-Singapore services from Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s to their expanding fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos (which at present appear only on selected flights to Sydney and Melbourne).
Virgin Australia has also formally signalled the end of its relationship with Malaysia Airlines, which last month announced its intention to join the global oneworld alliance – a competitor to Singapore Airlines' Star Alliance – under the sponsorship of oneworld founding member Qantas.
(Qantas, in turn, is tipped to involve MAS in efforts to reshape the Red Roo's loss-making international operations, potentially as a joint venture partner in what some wags have already dubbed 'Qantasia').
"There is no prospect of a broader relationship with Malaysia Airlines" the application says. "As a result of both the proposed alliance and Malaysia Airlines' decision to join oneworld, both parties will discuss termination of their existing relationship."
Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines will co-operate on international and domestic connecting flights as well as pricing, scheduling, marketing and sales, while Velocity and KrisFlyer members will enjoy shared lounge access and the ability to earn and burn points across both airlines.
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.