The ACCC has granted interim authorisation for Qantas and Emirates to continue coordinating their flight schedules days before their existing deal was due to expire.
The arrangement between the two airlines was first agreed upon in 2013, but was due to expire on 31 March 2023. The pair are ultimately seeking to extend it for another five years.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce in 2021 called the partnership one of “the most significant” in aviation.
“The international aviation market will take years to fully recover so close collaboration between airline partners is going to be more important than ever,” he said.
The partnership requires ACCC approval because it allows a level of collaboration that may otherwise break Australia’s competition rules.
Under the deal, the Flying Kangaroo’s customers can book tickets through Dubai, connecting to the larger airline’s huge network, while Emirates passengers enjoy similar perks in reverse.
Tim Clark, president of the state-owned Emirates, said last year, “As borders re-open, we look forward to restoring our Australian flight schedules, including our popular A380 services.”
The positive news for Qantas comes days after the ACCC delayed making a ruling over whether it would allow the national carrier to purchase FIFO operator Alliance.
In a statement released on Monday, the ACCC said Qantas’s decision to expand its wet lease agreement with Alliance is partly behind the decision.
“Due to recent announcements by Qantas and Alliance about key developments regarding their existing wet-lease agreement, and fleet expansions by Alliance, the ACCC requires more time to gather and consider further information from the parties to assess the implications of these developments for the ACCC’s assessment of the proposed acquisition,” the spokesperson told Australian Aviation.
In a statement last October following the deferral of the ACCC’s decision to March 2023, Qantas criticised the competition watchdog for “one of the longest processes for informal clearance in recent times”.
“Qantas has been clear about its intention to fully acquire Alliance since it took a 19 per cent stake in the charter services operator in February 2019. The ACCC took three years to investigate that minority holding and made no findings that it lessened competition. The Commission has also had the benefit of over two years of closely monitoring the domestic aviation industry,” the airline said.
“Qantas is a firm believer in regulation and due process, and has cooperated fully with information requests from the ACCC, but also believes such regulation needs to be timely and efficient to maintain confidence in the process.”