QANTAS and Emirates have been granted interim approval by The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to renew their ongoing coordination of passenger and cargo operations.
The two carriers’ existing authorisation, originally granted in 2018, expires next week, with the ACCC saying the agreement can continue while it “considers and evaluates the merits of the substantive application for authorisation”.
The overall application aims to extend the longstanding alliance for at least five years to allow Qantas and Emirates to continue coordinating activities including planning, scheduling, operating, sales, marketing, pricing, joint airport facilities, connectivity and distribution strategies.
The interim authorisation decision was granted subject to reporting conditions requiring the two airlines to provide a breakdown of carriage on the Sydney-Christchurch route.
The ACCC noted that the carriers said “while the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt, the Applicants’ services have resumed on the relevant routes as a result of the alliance, and continuation of the Conduct is expected to further facilitate capacity restoration and future expansion”.
The ACCC added that, because of the agreement already in place, its interim approval “preserves the status quo and will not alter the existing market dynamics”, and provides it more time to consider the overall extension application.
The request to renew the partnership has garnered some criticism, particularly from the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), after the body highlighted a number of issues in a submission to the ACCC’s public consultation in January.
Combined, Qantas and Emirates would dominate the Australia-UK market, taking up a share of 51.6%, AFTA voiced in the submission.