Major changes are coming to the way passengers travel between Australia and Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Qantas has announced a new marketing, codeshare, and joint operations agreement with Emirates Airlines. The partnership, due to start in April 2013, replaces a seventeen year long relationship with British Airways.
The deal will see Qantas move all of their Kangaroo Route traffic—passengers moving between Europe and Australia—to connect in Dubai rather than Southeast Asia. Between the two carriers there will be nearly 100 weekly frequencies between the Emirates hub and Australia, many of them on the A380, the largest passenger aircraft flying today. These passengers will have access to 70 destinations Emirates serves via one-stop connections in Dubai, making travel to much of the world faster and easier.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce notes the many benefits Qantas passengers will realize from the partnership:
"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. 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."
The move will also see a significant shift in the way Qantas handles traffic between Australia and Southeast Asia. Their schedule will adjust to better times for the local passengers rather than focusing on those connecting onwards to Europe.
From a connectivity and service perspective, this move appears to be quite positive for Qantas customers. They'll have access to many more destinations with just a single connection and connecting in Dubai isn't all that bad a situation. Qantas will be operating out of Terminal 3, the Emirates hub; they will be the only other carrier there which enables easier transfers and optimal connections. And passengers to Asia will see better timed flights, also an improvement.
The big question still to be answered is what this move will do to prices in the market. Since Emirates began service to Australia they have been quite aggressive at competing on fares in the market. Now that they are joining with the largest carrier in Australia and coordinating their pricing, there is less need to discount fares in order to attract customers. This could see fares rise which would not necessarily be good for travelers. Still, other airlines like Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and the Virgin Australia/Etihad partnership should provide sufficient competition to keep fares in check.
This is a major shake-up in the market. It could lead to further changes in the way Qantas participates in the oneworld global alliance they are a member of. Emirates doesn't want to be in a global alliance; this deal with Qantas is the closest they have ever come. And, while Qantas is in the alliance, this move drastically changes much of their connecting traffic needs. It will be interesting to watch this play out in the coming months.
Photo credits: Qantas plane via Shutterstock