A codesharing agreement between Qantas and Emirates could be finalised within six months but will not include any deal to share revenues, the chairman of Dubai-based Emirates has said.
“We’ve been engaging with them for some time,” Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum told reporters in Dubai yesterday, according to Reuters. “The objective is to eventually see Qantas fly through Dubai.”
Speculation over the tie-up has increased in recent weeks after reports that the two airlines were in the late stages of talks that would see Qantas fly to Dubai for the first time. Qantas has issued a vague confirmation saying that Emirates is among a “number of airlines” with which it is discussing possible alliances.
The talks come as Qantas looks for ways to stop the bleeding from its international business, which lost an estimated $450 million in the last fiscal year due to rising fuel prices and slumping market share. A tie-up with Emirates, which operates the world’s largest international network, would allow Qantas to offer one-stop tickets to some 30 destinations in Europe and 18 in Africa, far more than it currently offers through Singapore and Hong Kong. In turn, Emirates would get access to Qantas’s domestic network.
On the surface, the deal would mirror the code-sharing agreement between Virgin Australia and Abu Dhabi based Etihad. But it would represent a significant change and in many ways a retreat for Qantas, which could be forced to scale back or give up its codesharing agreement with British Airways.
Meanwhile, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) has called on Australia’s corporate watchdog to investigate whether Qantas has broken any laws by leaking media reports on the Emirates deal and an earlier push to set-up an Asia-based premium carrier. The TWU, locked in a long-running battle with Qantas, claims the reports were leaked to distract the market from poor financial results. The union also argues that Qantas waited too long to inform the market of a 90 per cent profit downgrade in June.
Qantas dismissed the claims as a “conspiracy theory.” The Australian Financial Review, which broke the most recent round of reports on the Emirates tie-up, said the story was not leaked by Qantas.