Virgin Australia-Singapore Airlines tie-up gets the nod from ACCC

By John Walton, December 1 2011
Virgin Australia-Singapore Airlines tie-up gets the nod from ACCC

The Virgin Australia / Singapore Airlines alliance is ready to take off, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today approving the partnership for a five year period.

Velocity frequent flyers can also look forward to accruing status credits on Singapore Airlines flights, as well as the usual reciprocal earning and burning of frequent flyer points.

That's happening this month, according to a Virgin Australia statement: "By the end of the year Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines will launch reciprocal frequent flyer benefits. Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer members will be able to earn and redeem Frequent Flyer Points and Status Credits on Singapore Airlines operated flights."

It's not yet clear whether status credits will be earned at the higher partner rate (like Etihad and Air New Zealand) or the lower rate (like Virgin Atlantic).

Up next will be codesharing of flights between both airlines for smoother ticketing and connections.

Frequent flyers already enjoy access to the other airline's lounges, which is a solid win for Virgin Australia passengers as it opens up SQ's network of Silver Kris lounges around the world.

New routes

In its submission to the ACCC, Virgin Australia said the alliance would let the airline "offer connections from anywhere within its domestic network to any codeshare destination available with Singapore Airlines, opening up many new routings, including from regional Australia to destinations throughout the world."

The UK, Spain, Denmark, Brazil, China, India, Japan and Vietnam are some of the destinations on Virgin Australia's to-do list submitted to the ACCC.

However, Virgin Australia's codeshare agreements with Singapore Airlines are only likely to open up flight routes not already served by its existing partnerships with Etihad and other airlines.

For example, flights to London via Singapore would be available only from Perth -- Virgin's current partner Etihad doesn't tap the WA capital but has other capital cities covered, and Virgin wants to avoid treading on the toes of its several codeshare pals.

CEO John Borghetti was adamant about not wanting to diminish any of Virgin Australia's other partnerships by signing with major player Singapore when Australian Business Traveller talked with him after the alliance agreement signing ceremony in Singapore earlier this year.

The tie-up will also rise the stakes in Virgin's battle with Qantas for the lucrative business travel market, especially as Qantas CEO Alan Joyce frequently cites Asia as a cornerstone for Qantas' international success.

Qantas is of course already pursuing a closer relationship with Malaysia Airlines as well as an Asian-based premium airline, likely to be branded Red Q or OneAsia.

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.


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

ACCC approval was pretty much a 'rubber stamp' but bring it on, Virgin & SQ! This is really going to upset Qantas' apple cart and maybe make the QF-MAS partnership happen faster? Also wondering how this will affect SQ's 'Scoot' airline, wasn't this going to have business class and also fly from Singapore into Australia?


10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

DJ/SQ Darwin to Singapore please!  I'd even be happy with an E190.  Something better than the overcrowded Jetstar flight to Singapore would be fantastic!

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