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Emirates dropping Brisbane and Melbourne to Auckland services

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 11, 2017

Emirates will soon only serve Auckland nonstop from Dubai. (Gary Hollier)

Emirates says it is further reducing trans-Tasman services in favour of more Qantas-operated flights as part of the pair’s global alliance.

The airline will cease daily Melbourne-Auckland and Brisbane-Auckland flights by March 2018, leaving Sydney-Christchurch as its only trans-Tasman service, having dropped Sydney-Auckland in June.

Further, Emirates has also flagged more nonstop services between Dubai and New Zealand as part of its network changes. It currently operates an Airbus A380 Auckland-Dubai nonstop service, the second-longest scheduled airline flight in the world by distance.

In their place will be seven more Qantas flights a week on the Melbourne route, and two additional services on the Brisbane route, the two carriers said in a joint-statement on Wednesday.

The move represents a capacity reduction on the Tasman given Qantas operates a mix of Boeing 737-800s and Airbus A330s on its Australia-New Zealand services, which have fewer seats than Emirates’ A380 flights.


Emirates said the end of its own flights between Auckland and Australia would allow for schedule changes for a “better spread of departure times” on services to and from its Dubai hub.

Further, the airline said it was “evaluating potential new direct services between New Zealand and Dubai”.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the changes reflected “customer demand, new aircraft technology and our respective network strengths”.

“The premise of the partnership has always been that we could serve our customers better together. That’s certainly been true for the past five years and now we’re evolving our joint network so we can serve them even better for the next five,” Joyce said in a statement

The changes are part of the the pair’s application to authorities in Australia and New Zealand to extend the alliance that was first struck in 2013 for a further five years, and which also cover previously announced return to Sydney-Singapore-London Heathrow flights and the start of Melbourne-Perth-London Heathrow Boeing 787-9 services.

“Reauthorisation of the partnership will allow us to leverage our combined network strengths to offer customers even more flight choices and reciprocal benefits for our millions of frequent flyer members,” Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said.

That pullback in seats should be welcomed by Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia, who have a joint-venture on trans-Tasman routes.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon noted recently the airline’s trans-Tasman network had been “very challenged for about a year” and suffered a weak 2016/17 first half due to increased competitive capacity and a decline in connecting passengers because of new direct services to New Zealand. However, Luxon there have been some improvements since then, albeit off a low base.

In addition to the cuts from Emirates, some fifth-freedom operators have also decided to pull out of the trans-Tasman market. China Airlines is due to end its Sydney to Christchurch service at the end of October, with Sydney-Auckland to wind up at the start of December.

And Philippine Airlines is switching its Manila-Cairns-Auckland rotation in favour of a nonstop Manila-Auckland offering from December 6.

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Comments (24)

  • Dan


    Ah no. I was looking forward to finally trying the A380 on my next Brisbane/Auckland trip with Emirated.

    Now its the old school bus B737 on the route.

  • Territory Aviator


    DXB-DRW-AKL is an untouched route which will do very well. there are a lot of Europeans travelling to Darwin for seasonal work and holidays as well as Territorians going to Europe for holiday. Our only option at the moment is going to Singapore or down south to catch emirates flights to Dubai and Beyond.

  • Marc


    The smaller jets are much quicker to load and unload. The 380 is a painfully long wait at both ends of a journey.

  • Matt


    @Dan, Qantas A330’s taking over the Emirates services and also replacing some B737 services too from Brisbane!

  • Wayne GALLOWAY


    A sad day for the Trans-Tasman traveller, Emirates offered a brilliant service at reasonable prices now (or from March 2018 at least) the options Ex Melbourne revert to Air Nz’s overpriced “service” and thier bare bones partner Virgin, Or Qantas with its trusty rusty 737’s and if youre lucky an A330 or even better a Jetstar “A320 squeezy delight”.

    No doubt that fares for trans tasman will start to climb whilst service levels head in the opposite direction. Im sure NZ tourisim will also take a hit as the “quick trip over the ditch” becomes more expensive and service options become limited. Will be interesting to see in 6mths time what the fares are and how much they have increased.

    So long old friend

  • David


    It sounds to me like the NZ to Australian routes across the ditch have been over serviced. Given that Chinese carriers are also reducing their Australia to. NZ services, it sounds a good and practical move economically.

  • Chris


    I doesn’t suprise me that EK is pulling their Trans Tasman services except Christchurch. The A380 is expensive to operate on short haul international flights, as It was designed for long haul international flights.

    There has been speculation for some time, that EK is thinking of operating AKL/LAX and/or AKL/SFO with A380’s. as part of EK ‘around the world’ route project. Even Air NZ is aware of it. If this does happen, it would be great for QF, as AKL/LAX is still a missing link in their Trans Pacific services especially with AA only offering season services during our summer.

    With the America Cup been planned for 2023 in Auckland, the current speculation could become a reality. Watch this space.

  • PAUL


    Yeah such a shame- way more roomy than a small B737 or A320- foods generally better than Qantas & AirNZ & if not full you get to have a bit more room to spread out. Bigger seats & bigger entertainment screens also..

  • Stu Bee


    Sorry Wayne Galloway, but your comment saying that Qantas utilises “rusty 737’s” is a little far retched and probably offensive to the many who service and maintain them.

  • Roger


    So will the only fifth freedom operator on trans-Tasman services in the long term be LATAM Chile?

  • Craigy


    @ Roger , There is still the SIA trans Tasman service from Canberra

  • Mal


    EK still running SYD-CHC return service.

  • Geoff


    Craigy is correct.

    The SQ 777 service from Canberra to the lovely New Zealand Capital, Wellington, is a winner as the aircraft is so roomy. Nine abreast in economy and 34 inch (86cm) seat pitch is excellent! Couple that with exemplary service, it is way above most.

    Try this if you want decent airline and airport standards. Please Note…….it is becoming well known, so get in early.

  • franz chong


    it’s no bad thing.I did trans tasman years ago on a NZ 767 AND EX Melbourne mind you.this was in an era when your alternatives were either a Qantas 747 or United 747 both of which after their Melbourne to Auckland sectors continued onto Los Angeles.I chose the evening NZ service due to connecting ex Adelaide ON AN AFTERNOON flight and the flight on offer was on a superior carrier.I will never if they were to introduce such a flight again consider a US CARRIER NOT IN A MILLION YEARS.

  • JR


    I think China Airlines will still operate Taipei – Brisbane – Auckland. At least I haven’t heard that one will be axed.

    I’m not really sure why everyone thinks the A380 is such a drawcard for a 3 hour hop across the Tasman. First of all the time it takes to get off them at the other end is tedious. And it is only a 3 hour flight after all, so sure a 737 or 330 is fine.

  • Glen


    While I don’t think the QF – EK partnership is ending, I certainly think this is another example of the “winding back” of the alliance. Just like QF going back to the Singapore stopover on London flights, it seems this is another unpicking of the relationship.

  • Craigy


    @ Glen I think you are wrong. I think the changes are a good for the relationship between EK and QF. It is giving prospective passengers many more options, pretty much like the virtual alliance Virgin has with SIA and ETD. The passenger numbers have massively increased from around 400,00 a year to Europe with the tie up with BA to over 1.2 million with the EK-QF tie up. The benefit of EK’s network is it is a one stop option to many destinations in Europe and you don’t have to fly Qantas to London and then BA to where ever it is you are going in Europe. Saves lots of time for one thing.

  • Geoff


    Far more efficient to operate twins on these short trans Tasman sectors and leave the wonderful A380 to what they were designed for. The ‘tag’ flights were always a finite flag waving opportunity.

    Commonsense use of resources after all.

  • Martin Burr


    With Emirates being the primary A380 operator to Auckland, will thus change have an impact on Auckland Airport’s expansion plans which include adding another 3 A380 compatible gates, up from the existing 3? Will they change these to ‘standard’ gates but leave the option of being upgraded to take A380’s in the future?

  • Keith


    I will miss the Emirates flights as I always fly with them to Australia. Their service is at a higher level than any other airline. Five course meals served within 30 minutes after takeoff and trays removed withing 15 minutes of finishing your meal. Compared to air New Zealand where the meal was served one and a half hours after takeoff, an over salted meat in gravy dish that I couldn’t eat
    with a small cake and they didn’t collect the trays until 40 minutes after we had finished. No one could get the scenes to work properly. A lot of the passengers were complaining to the crew. ( Boeing 777 from Melbourne to Auckland) I’ll be flying Virgin and Qantas from next year.

  • Alan H


    Given the level of disposable incomes available in Canberra, I cannot for the life of me understand why Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar or ANZ aren’t taking the game to SIA on the trans-Tasman CBR-WLG run. What a bonanza for SIA! And even on to Singapore! Who wouldn’t want to go up there directly from CBR with them on a B777-200 rather than Qantas via Dash8-400 to SYD and the “dash” across to International to get the connecting flight.?

  • Errol Crone


    I accept all the economic arguments but accumulating sufficient Qantas FF points to get a Business Class BNE-AKL return once every year in recent times on the EK A380 has been a special treat. Not worth expending those points now on Business Class in a QF B738 – no comparison in the two experiences!!

  • Dale C.


    and what about us poor puppies that already purchased a EK ticket for after March 2018.
    We have only been offered the closest corresponding QF 737 service with no $$ adjustment for what we paid on EK

  • Ian Deans


    Sad to see the A380 being withdrawn, Quiet, spacious, roomy seats, good service. I’ve used EK 380s a few times, and am definitely not looking forward to squeezy, cramped QF 737s instead. The QF 330 is not bad, but not a patch on the 380..

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