Virgin Australia had a pretty encouraging annual general meeting today.

But there is a problem, a big problem, with its own metal part of the alliance with Etihad Airways, on its flights to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, where passengers to the growing Asia, Europe and Africa network of its partner can make very civilised onward connections.

In the BITRE statistics on international flights between Australia and the rest of the world in the year to June 30, out the same day as the AGM, V Australia 777-300ERs only averaged load factors of 55.6% (or 41.2% inbound and 70% outbound).

However Etihad’s flights to and from Australia, in A346s and A345s, averaged 79.95% seat occupancy by paying passengers.

It’s true that V Australia, soon to be rebranded Virgin Australia, has only been on the route a comparatively short time. But it’s also true that no airline is going to tolerate half empty jets indefinitely on flights that are 14 hours long.

Expect to see Virgin Australia do something to make this alliance a success for both partners,  soon.

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