Emirates and Qantas will apply to extend their partnership for another five years with certain changes to the deal, the two airlines have announced.
The changes will “reflect customer demand, new aircraft technology and each airline’s respective network strengths”, a statement said.
The adjustments will also deliver financial upside to both airlines, with Qantas annualised net benefit estimated at more than $80m from fiscal year 2019 onwards.
The key change will see the airlines provide three options to Europe – via Dubai, Perth and Singapore.
Qantas will re-route its daily Sydney-London A380 service via Singapore rather than Dubai and upgrade its existing daily Melbourne-Singapore flight from an A330 to an A380.
The Autralian airline’s existing Melbourne-Dubai-London service will also be replaced with its Dreamliner service flying Melbourne-Perth-London.
Emirates will continue to operate 77 weekly services between Australia and Dubai from five cities – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – including seven daily A380 flights.
The airlines will shortly seek re-authorisation from relevant regulators, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to continue coordination of pricing, schedules, sales and tourism marketing, under an expanded partnership.
Customers with existing bookings impacted by the changes will be re-accommodated onto the new services or will be given the option to change their flights.
Qantas group CEO Alan Joyce said: “The first five years of the Qantas-Emirates alliance has been a great success. Emirates has given Qantas customers an unbeatable network into Europe that is still growing. We want to keep leveraging this strength and offer additional travel options on Qantas, particularly through Asia.
“Our partnership has evolved to a point where Qantas no longer needs to fly its own aircraft through Dubai, and that means we can redirect some of our A380 flying into Singapore and meet the strong demand we’re seeing in Asia.
“Improvements in aircraft technology mean the Qantas network will eventually feature a handful of direct routes between Australia and Europe, but this will never overtake the sheer number of destinations served by Emirates and that’s why Dubai will remain an important hub for our customers.”
Sir Tim Clark, president Emirates Airline, said: “The Emirates-Qantas partnership has been, and continues to be, a success story. Together we deliver choice and value to consumers, mutual benefit to both businesses, and expanded tourism and trade opportunities for the markets served by both airlines. We remain committed to the partnership.
“Emirates has worked with Qantas on these network changes. We see an opportunity to offer customers an even stronger product proposition for travel to Dubai, and onward connectivity to our extensive network in Europe, Middle East and Africa. We will announce updates in the coming weeks.”
Since the partnership was signed five years ago, more than eight million passengers have travelled on the joint network.
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research said: “It is likely that regulatory approval from the ACCC will be granted, especially since most of the network changes are happening with Qantas re-routing London flights via Singapore.
“This move away from Dubai allows Emirates to better manage and gain more slots and gate space at its home hub – which as we know is already at a premium given how much traffic passes through the airport every month.
He added: “There’s nothing stopping Qantas from shifting any future European flights back to Dubai International if it so chooses – provisions for that flexibility is key to their partnership so that customers are afforded multitude of travel and connection options.”