Qantas and Emirates have announced they will extend their codeshare partnership for another five years, as Emirates marks 25 years in the Australian market.
The agreement was signed by both Emirates president Tim Clark and Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce at the International Air Transport Association annual general meeting in Boston, and includes the option to further extend for an additional five years.
The airlines have existing approvals from regulators to operate a joint business until March 2023, and will seek re-authorisation from the revelevant authorities, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to continue the core elements of the partnership, including co-ordination of pricing, schedules, sales and tourism marketing on approved routes until 2028.
It comes as the Dubai-based carrier celebrated its silver jubilee of 25 years of service in the Australian market, after performing its inaugural flight from Dubai to Melbourne in 1996. Since then, the airline has flown more than 39 million passengers on routes to and from Australia.
Initially performing just three flights per week between Melbourne and Dubai, Emirates has expanded services to all Australian capital cities and beyond, with over 100 services per week to and from Australia at its peak before the pandemic.
Over the last 25 years, Emirates has performed over 204,000 flights to and from its Australian destinations.
This year also marks the eighth anniversary of the codeshare partnership between Emirates and Qantas, and 10 years since Emirates SkyCargo operated its first dedicated freighter flight to Sydney.
“The extension of our partnership with Qantas is testament to its success. It also reflects our commitment to ensure customers travelling to and from Australia, a market which we have served for 25 years, continue to have the best connections and frequent flyer benefits,” Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said.
“Despite the challenges of the past 18 months, today’s announcement reinforces that Emirates is here for the long-haul.”
“As borders re-open, we look forward to restoring our Australian flight schedules including our popular A380 services, and to welcoming customers to experience our best-in-class partnership for many more years to come,” he added.
Joyce said: “This marks the continuation of one of the most significant bilateral partnerships in aviation. We called it ‘seismic’ when it launched in 2013 and it has been, especially in terms of what it’s meant for over 13 million people who have travelled on flights that form part of the deal.
“The premise of our partnership with Emirates has always been that no airline can fly everywhere but combined we can fly to most of the places our joint customers want to travel to. And that we treat each other’s customers as our own.
“We know the international aviation market will take years to fully recover so close collaboration between airline partners is going to be more important than ever.”
In honour of Emirates silver jubilee, Emirates divisional vice president for Australasia Barry Brown said the milestone highlights the airline’s long-standing commitment to the Australian market.
“Australia remains one of Emirates’ most important markets and it’s our crew, local suppliers and, of course, our Australian passengers that have made the last 25 years so memorable” Brown said.
“We are here for the long-haul and, despite the challenges and restrictions imposed on airlines operating in Australia over the past year, we continued serving the country and our customers irrespectively.”
“As the world begins to open up once more, and international travel can be seen on the horizons for Australians longing for travel later this year, we look forward to continuing to serve customers and playing our part in re-connecting friends and families and offering a gateway to the rest of the world for years to come,” Brown added.
It comes after Emirates last month confirmed that it was actively recruiting Australian cabin crew and ground staff to join its Dubai hub, in a bid to restore 70 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity.
The airline said it would hire 3,000 cabin crew and 500 airport services employees globally over the next six months.
The news followed recent rumours that foreign airlines, including Emirates and US carriers, were pursuing locked-down Australian pilots, adding to concerns the country could face an aviation staff shortage when flying resumes.
Boeing warned earlier this year that if current trends continue, the global industry will be short of 600,000 pilots alone by 2040, with the problem thought to be particularly acute in Australia. Experts have consistently warned COVID has exacerbated this long-term problem through a combination of redundancies, early retirements and curtailment of hiring pilots into entry-level positions.
It also comes after the International Air Transport Association revealed Emirates carried the most passengers in 2020, due to its rapid response to the vaccination and the health pass.
The Dubai-based airline said it carried over 15.8 million passengers over the 12-month period.
Meanwhile, Emirates said by the end of the year it will also bring back its A380 aircraft to curb the travel demand – one of the last remaining airlines to operate the type.