Virgin warns of Italy fare hike

Virgin warns of Italy fare hike
By admin

Virgin Australia expects the air services regulator to "have serious concerns" over a plan by Qantas to codeshare with Emirates on flights to Italy.

In a submission to the International Air Services Commission (IASC), Virgin warned that should Qantas get the green light "it is likely that airfares will rise".

The claim emerged as Virgin Australia and Qantas battle for 1000 weekly codeshare seats permitted between Australia and Italy.

Virgin wants 300 seats to codeshare with Singapore Airlines and Etihad while Qantas, which currently holds the entire allocation, is seeking to replace existing Cathay Pacific and British Airways codeshares with alliance partner Emirates.

In its submission, Virgin Australia group executive government and international relations, Jane McKeon, told the IASC that Emirates and Qantas held more than half the passenger market between the two countries in 2011.

"Virgin Australia expects that the Commission would have serious concerns that Qantas' application…to permit codeshare services with Emirates may not be of benefit to the public," she said. "This is underscored by the fact that average airfares on the route have risen during the period in which Qantas has been the sole Australian carrier offering codeshare services to Italy in partnership with carriers which have a weaker presence on the route compared with Emirates".

Should the IASC approve the plan, "it is likely that airfares will continue to rise, to the detriment of Australian consumers and the Australian tourism industry", she said.

Virgin added that hopes of lifting the number of codeshare seats to Italy "appears extremely remote" after the Government made unsuccessful approaches to the Italian Government in late 2012.


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