Qantas and Emirates have announced they will extend their cornerstone partnership for another five years.
The extended deal means customers and frequent flyers of both airlines will have access to an expansive joint network and millions of reward seats to travel across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK.
The agreement was signed by Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce and Emirates president Tim Clark and at the International Air Transport Association’s annual general meeting in Boston earlier this month.
The airlines have existing approvals from regulators to operate a joint business until March 2023.
Qantas and Emirates will seek re-authorisation from relevant regulators, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to continue the core elements of the partnership, including coordination of pricing, schedules, sales and tourism marketing on approved routes until 2028.
The deal includes an option to renew for another five years beyond that.
Together, both airlines are making millions of reward seats available for frequent flyers to access more than 100 destinations to using their Qantas points or Skywards miles, which many have been stockpiling throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Emirates customers, the deal provides access to over 55 Australian destinations that the airline does not fly to, and Qantas customers are able to fly on Emirates to Dubai and access over 50 cities in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa that the flying kangaroo does not fly to.
Joyce said the extended partnership between Qantas and Emirates marks the continuation of one of the most significant bilateral partnerships in aviation.
“We called it ‘seismic’ when it launched in 2013 and it has been, especially in terms of what it’s meant for over 13 million people who have travelled on flights that form part of the deal,” he said.
“The premise of our partnership with Emirates has always been that no airline can fly everywhere, but combined, we can fly to most of the places our joint customers want to travel to. And that we treat each other’s customers as our own.
“We know the international aviation market will take years to fully recover, so close collaboration between airline partners is going to be more important than ever.”
Clark said the extension of Emirates’ partnership with Qantas was a testament to its success.
“It also reflects our commitment to ensure customers travelling to and from Australia, a market which we have served for 25 years, continue to have the best connections and frequent flyer benefits,” he added.
“Despite the challenges of the past 18 months, [the] announcement reinforces that Emirates is here for the long haul.
“Our partnership seamlessly connects travellers to over one hundred destinations globally on our joint network, and offers a coordinated premium experience such as access to points and lounges.
“As borders reopen, we look forward to restoring our Australian flight schedules including our popular A380 services, and to welcoming customers to experience our best-in-class partnership for many more years to come.”
This year, Emirates is celebrating 25 years of flying to Australia, transporting more than 39 million passengers between Australian cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, and other destinations via its Dubai hub since 1996.
Emirates has continued to display its strong commitment to the Australian market, increasing the size of its operations from three flights a week when it initially launched in 1996 in Melbourne, peaking to over 100 flights per week prior to the pandemic.
Qantas finalising domestic fleet renewal program
In other news, Qantas has entered the final stages of a formal tender process with aircraft and engine manufacturers for the long-term renewal of its domestic narrow-body fleet.
The program, which has been flagged previously, will see more than 100 new aircraft enter the national carrier’s domestic fleet by 2034, renewing the Boeing 737-800s and Boeing 717s that currently form the backbone of its domestic jet operations.
Deliveries would start from the end of 2023 under the renewal program, but Qantas would retain significant flexibility to make adjustments depending on market conditions.
The aircraft being considered are the Boeing 737 MAX family and Airbus A320neo family, as well as the smaller Embraer E-Jet E2 family and the Airbus A220.
The tender process includes a detailed evaluation of the aircraft against four key criteria: safety, reliability and performance, sustainability and emissions reduction, and commercial terms.
Qantas said final decisions on preferred suppliers of aircraft and engines are expected to be made by the end of 2021, followed by firm orders by mid-2022.
The group also has an existing order for 109 Airbus A320/A321 aircraft, which will predominantly be used to renew Jetstar’s existing fleet of A320 aircraft.
The first neo is due to be delivered in the second half of the 2022 calendar year, with deliveries through to the end of the decade.
Three additional 787-9 Dreamliners for Qantas’ international flights will be delivered from FY23 onwards.
Featured image source: Qantas Group