Qantas, Emirates Alliance Authorized For Five More Years

Emirates and Qantas
Credit: Rob Finlayson

Australia’s competition regulator has given final approval for the extension of the partnership between Qantas and Emirates, but the agency said it will monitor one route it is concerned about.

The pair sought another five-year authorization for their partnership, which allows them to cooperate on routes between Australia and Europe, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Permission for this arrangement was first granted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in 2013, and it was extended for another five years in 2018. The current authorization expired on March 31.

The ACCC granted interim authorization on March 23 to allow the airlines to continue operating the partnership while the agency considered the case. A draft approval was subsequently issued on June 22, and the final approval on Aug. 17.

“We think this continual coordination will benefit travelers by facilitating connectivity between a wide range of destinations as well as optimizing earning and redemption opportunities from their respective loyalty rewards programs,” the ACCC said.

The agency also noted that on routes where Qantas and Emirates have overlapping services, passengers will have “greater choice of flight times and travel options.”

There is a caveat to the approval, however. The ACCC said it is concerned that the coordination between the two carriers could harm competition in the market between Sydney and Christchurch, New Zealand, as Air New Zealand is the only other carrier operating the route.

Because of this, Qantas and Emirates have been directed to “provide regular updates on passenger revenue and operating costs to enable us to monitor competition on this route over the next five years,” the ACCC said.

Emirates has a strong presence in the Australian international market. The carrier has the fifth-largest share of Australian international seat capacity for the week of Aug. 14, according to data from CAPA and OAG. The 7.3% Emirates share is behind Qantas, Jetstar, Singapore Airlines, and Air New Zealand. Australia represents Emirates’ fourth-largest market, behind India, the UK, and the U.S.

Adrian Schofield

Adrian is a senior air transport editor for Aviation Week, based in New Zealand. He covers commercial aviation in the Asia-Pacific region.