Etihad Airways today announced a new codeshare agreement with Qantas Airways in the Abu Dhabi carrier's latest move to penetrate the Australian market. The closer commercial co-operation between the two airlines means Etihad will fly into Melbourne for the first time, and gives Qantas its first direct connections with Middle East destinations. The codeshare agreement will take effect on March 29. The airline already has flights to Sydney and Brisbane.
Etihad also hopes to put its name on Telstra Dome, the football stadium it sponsors in Melbourne, to coincide with the new flights. However, the move has been controversial in Australia and the subject of legal manoeuvres. The codeshare agreement means passengers will see Etihad's two-letter 'EY' code on selected Qantas domestic services that operate beyond Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In addition, Etihad passengers will be able to transfer to daily domestic Qantas flights from Melbourne to Auckland in New Zealand.
"Australia represents a key market for Etihad and one in which we are keen to grow further," said James Hogan, the airline's chief executive. The Qantas routes within Australia covered by the new arrangement will initially include services between Sydney and three Australian cities: Cairns, Melbourne and Adelaide. email@example.com