Virgin Blue is said to be plotting a closer alliance with the Coles FlyBuys program as part of the airline's mid-year relaunch, according to a report in The Herald-Sun.
Under the scheme, members of Virgin Blue's Velocity Reward frequent flyer programme could receive points for money spent at all participating FlyBuys outlets -- a list which includes Coles and Bi-Lo supermarkets, Target and Kmart variety stores and Liqourland, as well as Budget car rentals and Best Western Hotels.
The Virgin Blue-Coles FlyBuys partnership would allow each company to take on its larger competitors of Qantas and Woolworths, which already enjoy a highly promoted dollars-for-points deal between the Woolworths Everyday Rewards Card and Qantas Frequent Flyer programme.
The airline has an estimated 2.4 million Velocity members, while Coles boasts 10 million FlyBuys cardholders. Those shoppers can currently redeem FlyBoy points on Virgin Blue and Qantas flights.
But with an earning rate of two FlyBuys points for every $5 spent at Coles, Target and Kmart, and an average of 22,000 points needed for a return Sydney-Melbourne trip, you'd need to spend $55,000 to fly.
A closer relationship with Virgin would likely see Velocity points earned directly through each dollar spent (as well as the removal of Qantas flights from the list of FlyBuys redemptions.)
Virgin Blue has already committed to overhauling Velocity Rewards this year, with CEO John Borghetti going so far as to call it the "launch of a new loyalty program" which could even see the Velocity brand ditched entirely.