Qantas and Emirates plan to launch a new global aviation partnership that they say will give their customers a seamless Australian and international network and exclusive frequent-flyer benefits, subject to receiving regulatory approvals.
Under an agreement signed on September 6 by Emirates President Tim Clark and Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, Qantas will move its hub for European flights to Dubai and will enter an extensive commercial relationship with Emirates.
The 10-year partnership will go beyond codesharing to include integrated network collaboration with coordinated pricing, sales and scheduling, as well as a benefit-sharing model. Neither airline will take an equity stake in the other.
Other than Emirates, Qantas will be the only other airline operating to Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 and its new purpose-built Airbus A380 concourse.
The partnership will give Qantas customers one-stop access to more than 70 Emirates destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. For Emirates customers it will open up Qantas’ Australian domestic network of more than 50 destinations and 5,000 flights per week.
The carriers will also coordinate on their services between Australia and New Zealand and services between Australia and Southeast Asia.
The Emirates and Qantas frequent-flyer programs will be aligned, giving customers expanded opportunities to earn and redeem points. Emirates and Qantas will provide reciprocal access to tier-status benefits, including end-to-end customer recognition, lounge access, priority check-in and boarding and other exclusive services.
“Emirates is the ideal partner for Qantas,” said Joyce. “It has a wonderful brand, a modern fleet, an uncompromising approach to quality and it flies to the A-list of international destinations. This is the most significant partnership the Qantas Group has ever formed with another airline, moving past the traditional alliance model to a new level. It will deliver benefits to all parts of the group.”
Joyce added: “As the world’s largest international airline, with a network that perfectly complements our own, Emirates will help us give our customers across Australia a dramatically expanded range of travel options. Together with Emirates, Qantas will provide a unique ‘one stop’ hub service, as well as deeply integrated frequent flyer and customer benefits.”
Continued Joyce: “The partnership delivers on all four pillars of the Qantas Group’s international strategy: it will see us fly to the global gateway city of Dubai, provide some of the world’s best travel experiences through both Qantas and Emirates, improve our network in Asia, and, crucially, help build a strong Qantas International business for the long term. There will be considerable benefits for the broader economy as we collaborate with industry to drive more inbound trade and tourism.”
“The time was right to develop a long-term partnership with Qantas, the iconic Australian airline,” said Clark. “Since our first flights began in 1996, Australia has long been a popular destination for Emirates leisure and business travelers, making it one of the top three destinations in our network.”
Clark added: “By establishing this partnership we are providing our passengers with additional connectivity in Australia and the region, the ability to utilise reciprocal frequent-flyer benefits and access to premium lounges and travel experiences.”
The airlines will submit an application for interim authorization to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in order to begin commercial planning. Subject to regulatory approval, the carriers anticipate the partnership commencing in April 2013.
As part of a broader strategic plan of which the planned Emirates partnership forms part, Qantas will restructure its Asian network to strengthen its focus on services to and within the region.
“We currently have an Asian flying schedule based on traveling via Asia to Europe,” said Joyce. “But our Australian business customers want better access to Asia, and we have been looking to address this for some time.”
Joyce continued: “With European services transiting through Dubai, Qantas’ Asian services will no longer be a subsidiary of the ‘Kangaroo Route’. Instead they will be dedicated to connecting Australians with our region, and Asian visitors to Australia.”
Revealed Joyce: “We will increase dedicated capacity to Singapore and re-time flights to Singapore and Hong Kong to enable more ‘same day’ connections across Asia. We believe this will significantly improve the economics of our Asian operations.”
Qantas will also withdraw from the Singapore-Frankfurt route. According to Qantas, while this service has been under-performing for some time, and withdrawal was inevitable, the partnership with Emirates will enable it to take place with minimal impact on Qantas customers.