The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has given draft approval to the proposed Qantas-Emirates partnership.
The approval, granted for five years of the planned 10-year arrangement between the airlines, will allow Qantas and Emirates to coordinate pricing, sales and capacity.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the draft determination was “an important step towards delivering a better travel experience for millions of customers”.
He added: “Our customer research has shown very strong support for the Qantas and Emirates partnership, particularly in terms of increasing one-stop access to Europe, cutting travel time and offering frequent flyer benefits. We will now focus on responding to the issue raised by the ACCC in relation to the trans-Tasman as we move to securing final approval of this landmark partnership.”
Emirates’ CEO Tim Clark said with Australia being one of the top three destinations in the Emirates network, “the partnership with Qantas means we can add regional destinations like the Gold Coast and Hobart to the growing list of places we offer Emirates customers worldwide”.
Since lodging the application, both airlines have been preparing elements of the arrangements that have not required formal approval, such as connecting IT systems, frequent flyer reciprocity and establishing an operational base in Dubai for Qantas.
The federal government, the state governments of Victoria and Queensland, Australian Tourism Export Council and the National Tourism Alliance have all thrown their weight behind the application, for which final determination from the ACCC is due on the eve of the partnership starting in March.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia’s proposal to acquire a 60 per cent stake in Tiger is coming under strong scrutiny from the ACCC, which considers the resulting removal of Tiger as a competing airline in the domestic market as a tangible negative needing close consideration. The ACCC’s focus will be to determine whether there is an over-riding benefit in Virgin Australia’s acquisition of Tiger resulting in improved competition in the domestic market.