Qantas and Emirates have withdrawn their application for interim approval of their proposed alliance but say they will be able to begin planning the tie-up anyway.
The two airlines had sought interim approval from the ACCC to begin co-ordinating their activities ahead of the alliance’s planned start in April next year. Unions and rival carriers, notably Virgin Australia, had objected to the application.
Qantas didn’t indicate whether those objections had led it to withdraw the request for interim approval, but said it was satisfied it could begin preparations as the ACCC considered its case. The decision to drop the application came as Qantas announced it would begin selling tickets for flights through Dubai from March 31.
Re-routing its Melbourne and Sydney to London flights through Dubai is a centrepiece of the Emirates tie-up. Qantas said the decision to move ahead with the change did not involve coordination between the airlines.
The International Air Services Commission said it had received an application from Qantas for an allocation of 14 flight per week on the Dubai route.
The ACCC said the airlines’ decision to withdraw the interim application would not affect their broader application for approval of the alliance. A draft decision on the tie-up is expected by the end of the year.
Qantas and Emirates have proposed a ten-year alliance but must show that the benefits to consumers will outweigh the loss in competition. Qantas has argued that the tie-up is necessary for its survival as an international carrier.