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Qantas-Emirates alliance approval nears deadline

by on March 25, 2013
 

UPDATE (26 March, 12:30PM AEST): The Motley Fool is suggesting that the Brisbane and Melbourne-Singapore will likely be upgauged to A380 services in order to cope with promised capacity increases. If this really happens, it’ll be great news for economy travellers!


The proposed alliance between Qantas and Emirates – affectionately called Emiroo by some – is nearing its approval deadline. The first flight is expected to depart for London this Sunday, March 31, and without approval the Qantas turnaround strategy could be in peril. Perhaps peril is a strong word. Even without approval, it’s likely Qantas flights 1, 2, 9 and 10 would continue through Dubai without approval for an alliance, but it would make it a less attractive proposition for Qantas passengers wishing to transfer to Europe.

Economy Traveller is very much in favour of this alliance, not only because it improves connectivity to Europe, but because it frees up Qantas assets to serve Asia more effectively. Qantas has spent decades flying over Asia and not to it, ignoring important ports like Kuala Lumpur altogether, and struggling to keep loads and frequencies to Beijing and other Chinese megacities. This alliance will hopefully address that imbalance, especially when Jetstar hands back A330 aircraft it has borrowed from Qantas when it gets its own 787s.

On the downside, many ports in Australia are served by Emirates 777 aircraft, which pale in comparison to their A380 offering in term of Economy class comfort. Although their seat pitch comes in at a hefty 34″, Emirates squeeze 10 passengers shoulder-to-shoulder, where other 777 operators such as Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines seat 9. It’s not a great compromise; common estimates for passenger comfort equate 1.6″ of pitch to every 1″ of seat width, and in the Emirates configuration the maths don’t make for comfortable reading (or sitting).

All that is required now is approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) who are expected to grant final approval, perhaps with conditions surrounding the number of seats to New Zealand. News from the ACCC is expected Wednesday, so watch this space!

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