What The Qantas-Emirates Deal Means For Australian Passengers

Qantas and Emirates have announced a 10-year partnership which will see Dubai become the main connecting hub for European flights, timings change for flights to Asia and Qantas' long-standing partnership with British Airways effectively end. How will that alter your flying habits? Here's what you need to know.

Picture by Alexander Hassenstein

The long-anticipated deal (which has been rumoured since Qantas' last major rejig) became official this morning. The most visible change is that Qantas will fly directly to Dubai and rely on Emirates to connect passengers to many cities in the region. The two airlines aren't merging, but they are co-ordinating schedules and frequent flyer programs. Full details of the scheme are still being finalised, and it will require authorisation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

First point: the earliest possible date when this will happen is April 2013, and depending on regulatory concerns, it could be much later. Until then, it will be business as usual. Once the partnership is official, expect these shifts:

Route changes

Qantas will run daily A380 flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Dubai, landing in the A380-only Terminal 3, with some services continuing to London. Qantas is officially dropping its Singapore-Frankfurt route. The idea is that from Dubai, passengers can connect to Emirates services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa more easily than via more westerly locations. Codeshare options will exist on these flights.

Qantas will also retime its daily flights to Singapore and Hong Kong to allow more same-day travel. There will be more direct flights to Singapore, which makes sense given Qantas is working on a major lounge revamp there.

The end for BA

Qantas and British Airways are terminating the joint business they operate to co-ordinate flights. Both will remain members of the oneworld frequent flyer group, so lounge access should continue and some flights will have code shares, but the level of co-operation will be lower than currently. That change is an inevitable consequence of Qantas shifting its focus on sending passengers to Europe via Emirates' Dubai hub. Qantas says it will contact any customers who have bookings from April 2013 and who might be affected by the changes.

Frequent flyer changes

The detail on frequent flyer alternations is relatively brief, though it doesn't sound like anyone will be much worse off. This is what the press statement says:

The Emirates and Qantas frequent flyer programs will be aligned, giving customers expanded opportunities to earn and redeem points. Emirates and Qantas will provide reciprocal access to tier status benefits including end-to-end customer recognition, lounge access, priority check-in and boarding and other exclusive services.

In Australia, customers for either airline with lounge access can choose to use either the Qantas or Emirates lounges.

We'll update this post if new details emerge. What are your thoughts on the shift to Emirates? Tell us in the comments.


    I hope this doesn't mean a reduction in Emirates flights from Australia. If not, with reciprocal rights on FF miles why would you fly Qantas?

    I've got a great deal earning 1.5 points per dollar through emirates. Would be great to be able to use them with Qantas

    I have already booked a Frankfurt to Melbourne flight via Singapore July next year using FF points, what will happen with this?

      Maybe... You will need to change your booking!

    I hope that Emirates is able to pull Qantas up, as opposed to Emirates stooping to Qantas shonky standards in all aspects of its service. Losing the attitude would be a good start. Take note QF cabin crew.

    So much for having a one-stop flight to LHR from Brisbane after April on either carrier. :-(

    Whoops - I take part of it back. Looks like you can still do it on EK but not QF.

    I think this is the best thing Joyce has done, like... Ever. I'm surprised. There are still many issues inside QF but this is a positive in every way.

      Well, it remains to be seen... it may be a preferred change for some business customers heading directly to UK and /or Europe, maybe! Leisure travellers would possibly prefer to route through Singapore, so this may be a great opportunity for SQ and BA or some other partnering mix! Personally, my preferred routing between Australia and Europe is via Singapore where I do enjoy very much the 1 night (sometimes more) layover to break the journey! Dubai? Sorry, not for me!

    Mostly positive - but not at all happy that Qantas will not have flights ex Perth to London via Dubai.
    I still prefer Qantas and out of Perth will now have to fly Emirates.

    I hope they use Qantas FF program rather than Emirates as it costs $25 per 1,00 points to transfer and you lose points after 2 years while Qantas keeps them indefinitely and free transfer of points

    I live in Brisbane, why would I fly Qantas to Europe or even to London? I'll just fly Emirates from now on. I hope this isn't the beginning of the end for Qantas.

      Yes Ben, agreed... airline management have not always shown great 'smarts' when it comes to 'business'...

    I hope the merge with QF doesn't drag Emirates down to the depths of the shocking QANTAS service. Will this co-operation be toxic for Emirates? Hope not.

    Does this mean that there will be sensible arrival/departure times for passengers travelling to/from Perth to Europe? The current Qantas schedules from London are ludicrous and I have changed carrier.

    I'm with John V - no flights from Perth to London with Qantas...how come!!

    I concur with others comments regarding Perth flights to Europe...Qantas has abandoned us!

    Very disappointed Qantas now don't go to Europe so have to travel on Emirates and you can't use frequent flyer points to upgrade, this is the reason I have frequent flyer points so will have to now join Singapore Airlines Kris Flyer and fly with them

      Neither of those are true. Qantas flights into London are still on Qantas planes all the way through, and you can use points to upgrade onto any code share flight.

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