According to the airlines, which were originally seeking a ten-year deal, the partnership will provide customers with a “seamless international and Australian network, exclusive frequent flyer benefits and world-class travel experiences”.
ACCC approval is required for Emirates and Qantas to coordinate on pricing, sales and capacity.
The ACCC has issued a draft determination with a final decision due in March 2013. The implementation of the partnership remains subject to the ACCC’s final determination and regulatory approval in other jurisdictions.
Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce, said the ACCC’s draft determination was an important steptowards delivering a better travel experience for millions of customers.
“We put a strong case to the ACCC that outlined the benefits of this partnership, both for travellers and for Australian tourism,” Joyce said.
“Our customer research has shown very strong support for the Qantas and Emirates partnership, particularly in terms of increasing one-stop access to Europe, cutting travel time and offering frequent flyer benefits.
“We will now focus on responding to the issue raised by the ACCC in relation to the trans-Tasman as we move to securing final approval of this landmark partnership,” Joyce said.
President of Emirates Tim Clark said that the positive response from its customers had been matched with enthusiasm from the local tourism sector.
“The feedback since the Emirates and Qantas partnership was announced has been positive and reinforces what a strong match the two brands are for each other,” he said.
“Australia is one of the top three destinations in the Emirates network, popular for our business and leisure travellers alike.
“The partnership with Qantas means we can add regional destinations like the Gold Coast and Hobart to thegrowing list of places we offer Emirates customers worldwide,” Clark said.
Since announcing the proposed partnership in September, Emirates and Qantas have started “initial preparationsthat do not require regulatory approval, including connecting IT systems, designing frequent flyer benefits andestablishing an operational base for Qantas in Dubai” according to the airlines.
Submissions to the ACCC made in support of the Qantas-Emirates partnership included the CommonwealthDepartment of Infrastructure and Transport, the Victorian and Queensland state governments, Australian TourismExport Council and the National Tourism Alliance.
A final decision is expected from the ACCC in March 2013. Thepartnership is scheduled to start in April 2013.
The Federal Coalition has welcomed the draft ACCC approval of the Qantas-Emirates partnership, saying the tie up between the national carrier and one of the world’s best airlines will provide significant in-bound tourism benefits.
Shadow Minister for Tourism, Bob Baldwin said not only will Australians access 70 destinations via a single stop via Dubai, inbound tourists will have a choice of more than 50 Australian destinations.
He said the deal is therefore in the best interests of competition, passengers, and the Australian tourism industry.
“While today’s announcement is good news for international tourism, the sector is struggling under the weight of regulation and taxes such as the carbon tax,” said Shadow Minister for Tourism, Bob Baldwin.
He said the approval of the Qantas Emirates deal is “really a win-win that supports regional tourism, and should help Australia access more inbound tourists we so desperately need to restore balance”.