Well that didn't last very long... Virgin Australia has announced it will not go ahead with the mid-year launch of its Perth-Abu Dhabi flights, saying "subsequent changes in market conditions have made the route no longer viable."
More details here: Virgin Australia axes Perth-Abu Dhabi flights
PREVIOUS | Virgin Australia will begin direct flights between Perth and Abu Dhabi from June 9 2017, axing the current Sydney-Abu Dhabi route from February 4 next year.
The flights will be served by Virgin Australia's Airbus A330-200 aircraft, recently fitted with the airline's new 'The Business' seats in business class.
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Running three days each week, flight VA11 is wheels-up in Perth on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 11:05pm, touching down in Abu Dhabi at 6:35am the following morning.
On the return, VA12 takes to the skies at 8:20am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays to reach Perth at 11:25pm.
With the exception of seasonal flights from Sydney to Fiji, this marks the first time Virgin Australia's A330s have appeared on long-distance international routes.
Australian Business Traveller understands the airline will subsequently trim its transcontinental A330 schedule by 3.5 flights per week, with the twin-aisle jet being replaced by a smaller Boeing 737 on selected daytime Melbourne-Perth and Brisbane-Perth flights.
Etihad Airways will retain its existing daily Perth-Abu Dhabi flights, but will increase its Sydney-Abu Dhabi services to double-daily from early February – up from 11 per week – to cover the three days each week on which Virgin Australia will no longer fly.
The afternoon EY451 flight will continue to use a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft fitted with first class, business class and economy, while the already-daily Airbus A380 service with The Residence, First Apartments, Business Studios and economy will remain.
Virgin Australia business class passengers will have access to the Etihad Premium Lounges in Terminal 1 (pictured) and Terminal 3 at Abu Dhabi Airport, while Velocity Platinum cardholders in business class or economy can relax in the Etihad First Class Lounge.
Velocity Gold cardholders stuck in economy will instead be sent to the smaller Al Reem Lounge run by Plaza Premium (below), while it's not yet known which lounge Virgin Australia passengers will have access to in Perth.
The airline will also re-launch its Melbourne-Los Angeles route with five flights a week from April 4 2017, but will reduce Brisbane-LA services from daily to six-times-weekly from April 7 2017.