Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia are claiming a world first for frequent flyers, by allowing members of their respective KrisFlyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer loyalty programs to convert their miles and points from either program to the other.

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The order brings to 20 the total number of ATR turboprop regional airliners ordered by Singapore-based Avation PLC since early 2011. In addition, Avation holds options and purchase rights on a number of additional aircraft.

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With this order, Virgin Australia becomes the first Australian airline to order the new Boeing 737 MAX, while adding to its existing fleet of 68 Boeing 737NG aircraft.

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The three airlines have agreed to a global partnership that for the first time allows each airline’s loyalty-program members to redeem miles or points when taking flights on any of the sister-branded airlines across their respective route networks.

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Singapore Airlines currently serves five Australian cities: Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. By putting its ‘SQ’ flight-designator code on Virgin Australia-operated flights, SIA is adding 20 more cities to its codeshare network.

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Singapore-based leasing company Avation PLC has ordered five more ATR 72-600 regional turboprops for Australia’s Skywest Airlines, which will operate the aircraft on a range of Australian domestic routes on behalf of Virgin Australia.

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As part of a joint plan to increase services to northern Australia, Singapore Airlines’ regional full-service airline SilkAir will begin four-times-weekly service between Singapore and Darwin on March 26. Virgin Australia will complement these flights with daily service between Sydney and Darwin from April 2.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has given formal approval for Singapore Airlines’ proposed alliance with Virgin Australia, the final regulatory approval needed for the two carriers to proceed with their wide-ranging alliance.

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Hawaiian Airlines and the Virgin Australia group of airlines have launched a new agreement that allows V Australia to codeshare on Hawaiian Airlines’ flights between Sydney and Honolulu, and on Hawaiian’s connecting inter-island flights to Kahului, Lihue, Hilo and Kona.

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The inaugural flight of Virgin Australia’s first turboprop – and Australia ’s first ATR 72 – was also the airline’s first flight from Brisbane to the regional industrial city of Gladstone in Queensland. Virgin Australia flight DJ1711 departed Brisbane at 10.30 a.m. local time on October 17.

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The ACCC is expected to make its final ruling following public comments on the proposal. The two airlines are also awaiting approval from the Competition Commission of Singapore.

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Delta Air Lines and Virgin Australia Airlines are beginning their planned transpacific codeshare agreement on flights between the United States and Australia on November 6, and have arranged to make customer connections easier at Los Angeles.

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Australian carrier Skywest Airlines has taken delivery of the first of at least eight new ATR 72s, the aircraft becoming the first ATR 72 to operate in Australia. Skywest will operate its new ATR fleet on behalf of Virgin Australia to create a regional-airline network for the larger carrier.

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