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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Qantas replaces Dubai with Singapore on 'Kangaroo' service to UK

Changes to partnership agreement opens up access to over 60 Australian destinations that Emirates does not serve

Emirates and Qantas A380 aircraft at Sydney airport. The Australian carrier will fly from the city to London via Singapore from next March. Daniel Munoz/Reuters
Emirates and Qantas A380 aircraft at Sydney airport. The Australian carrier will fly from the city to London via Singapore from next March. Daniel Munoz/Reuters

Qantas will drop Dubai as a transit hub for some of its London flights, as part of a new extension of the carrier’s partnership arrangement with Emirates Airlines.

But the Australian carrier was keen to emphasise that the rerouting would not adversely affect Emirates or the carriers' relationship, with Qantas passengers still able to transit through Dubai by flying on Emirates planes.

The Australian airline said on Thursday that it will use Singapore as a hub rather than flying via Dubai for its Sydney to London service from March 2018, when it will operate an Airbus A380 on the route rather than the current A330. Qantas will also reroute its existing flight from Melbourne to London via Perth instead of Dubai, as previously announced.

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Qantas said the changes reflected customer demand, new aircraft technology and each airline’s respective network strengths.

“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," said the Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce.

Mr Joyce played down the suggestion of a downgrade of Qantas’s relationship with Emirates, or a lessening of the perceived standing of Dubai as a hub.

“Improvements in aircraft technology means the Qantas network will eventually feature a handful of direct routes between Europe and Australia, 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,” he said.

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Analysts also said the renewed agreement would not adversely effect Emirates or Dubai as an aviation destination.

“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,” said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research.

“Singapore is a less congested airport – so it makes sense that if Qantas wants to expand its network into Europe, it had to go back to Singapore because Emirates will not want to relinquish its slots.”

Apart from the changes to the London market, the overall partnership between the two airlines is little changed, said John Strickland, the director of JLS Consulting.

“By focusing on other European cities via the Dubai link up [Qantas] can refocus more of their own fleet capacity on profitable Asian expansion,” he said.

“Emirates remains strong and continues to grow despite current challenging market. Dubai, meanwhile, offers enormous network diversity and remains an important transit point for Australia-Europe.”

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The revised partnership between Qantas and Emirates, which requires approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, will open up access to more than 60 Australian destinations that Emirates does not currently serve.

Emirates will continue to operate 77 weekly services from Dubai to five cities – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney – including seven daily A380 flights.

The new arrangement will also give Qantas customers access to over 40 cities in Europe, the Middle East and North America, not currently served by the Australian airline.

Qantas said that the changes will deliver additional benefits to the eight million passengers who have travelled more than 65 billion kilometres on the combined network since 2013, increasing customer choice as well as frequent flyer earn and redeem opportunities.

The Australian airline added that the moves will also deliver financial benefits to both airlines, with Qantas' annualised net benefit estimated at more than A$80 million (Dh231m) from 2019 onwards.

At a meeting in Sydney to finalise the extension, both airlines said the changes to the joint network were designed to reinforce the success of the past five years’ alliance over the next five years.

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