Having agreed to maintaining, with the possibility of increasing, the number of seats for sale on certain routes, Qantas Airways (ASX: QAN) and Emirates will receive the final approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and other international regulators required to begin their landmark alliance.
The ACCC was concerned that the two airlines may push airfair prices upward by reducing the number of some services, but the two airlines have committed to conditions to appease this fear. Should profitability and the average number of occupied seats per aircraft reach an agreed amount, a higher number of seats will be made available.
Prior to the final approval announcement, there were also fears in the industry that the profitability of trans-Tasman services would be abolished. While the Air New Zealand (ASX: AIZ) and Virgin Australia Holdings (ASX: VAH) alliance also runs services on the route, it was feared that the ACCC would require the two alliances to commit to capacity growth – having more planes would mean less passengers per flight and hence, higher costs.
Whilst one of the initial conditions of the ACCC was that Qantas and Emirates were to maintain all services between Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane to Auckland as well as Sydney to Christchurch, a more flexible capacity commitment has been made. The new commitment could allow Qantas to remove one of its own Sydney-Auckland services to instead sell tickets on Emirate’s same service – meaning that Qantas could free up one of its aircrafts to begin a new service.
Qantas and Emirates have also agreed to make roughly as many flights from Australia to Singapore as on the trans-Tasman route. It is likely that Emirates will need to replace its Boeing 777 with the Airbus A380 for the Melbourne and Brisbane to Singapore service, in order to increase seating capacity by almost 40%.
With the alliance expected to be granted approval from the competition regulators this week, Qantas shareholders will be expressing a sigh of relief. After a volatile few years on the market for Qantas, the Emirates alliance could lead to great results for the Flying Kangaroo and its investors alike.
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