THE Board of Airline Representatives Australia (BARA) isn’t commenting on revelations in Travel Daily this week that two of its largest members, Qantas and Emirates, have pulled out of the peak body which collectively negotiates on behalf of international carriers with major suppliers such as airports, Airservices Australia, fuel and technology providers and more.
Qantas confirmed it had not renewed its membership effective from 30 June, while although no official notification has been forthcoming, it’s also understood that Emirates has withdrawn and is no longer listed as a member on the BARA website.
The revelation has come as a shock to some other players in the market and must surely significantly impact the organisation’s muscle when it comes to talks with airports over fees and charges.
In 2019 BARA noted in a submission to the Federal Government’s Productivity Commission that its members comprised more than 90% of international flights to and from Australia. The 32 remaining members still include some heavy hitters such as Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways, but the pullout of Emirates and Qantas may also see others reconsider their participation so this figure may become eroded even further.
The revelations come just two weeks after the departure of long-time BARA Executive Director Barry Abrams, who stepped down at the end of June after almost a decade in the role. He was replaced by Stephen Pearse, whose aviation career ironically includes a stint as head of Emirates in Australia after a variety of other roles at British Airways, United Airlines and Fiji Airways.
BARA, which was a vocal critic of the strict passenger caps imposed on the industry during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, holds an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission authorisation which allows it to collectively represent its members. The current authorisation expires in 2025.
BARA was approached for comment but has so far not responded.