Etihad, supported by Virgin Australia, will take on Emirates, supported by Qantas, and Qatar, supported by no-one, on the Perth to Middle East routes by launching a daily two class A330-200 to its Abu Dhabi hub from 15 July.
Tourism and Transport Forum Chief Executive Ken Morrison said “International arrivals from the UAE to Australia are up 22.2 per cent so far in 2013, following on from 14.1 per cent growth for the same period last year.
“In addition, Etihad flies to dozens of destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, putting Perth just one stop away from a host of other international source markets.
“For many travellers, convenience is a factor in their decision making, so one-stop flights remove a critical barrier by reducing travel time and making access easier.
“In addition, these flights will encourage dispersal by international visitors because passengers can seamlessly transition from an Etihad flight onto a Virgin Australia domestic or regional service.”
All of the above is true, and it will take the Virgin-Qantas contest into new territory, although the formidable Qantas presence on the domestic routes to Western Australia is somewhat underdone when it comes to international Qantas flights from Perth to anywhere.