Australian regulators to allow Qantas, Emirates to continue coordinating operations

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The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to authorise Qantas Airways Ltd, Emirates and their related entities (including Jetstar) to continue coordinating operations for five years. Qantas and Emirates are seeking re-authorisation for a Restated Master Coordination Agreement which will enable them to coordinate passenger and cargo transport operations across their respective networks. These networks cover routes between Australia and the UK/Europe, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

“The ACCC considers that the proposed conduct would be likely to result in public benefits, including increased connectivity and convenience and greater loyalty program benefits for consumers,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said. “The coordination will give customers greater choice of flight times and flexibility when travelling on routes where the operations of Qantas and Emirates overlap.”

However, the ACCC is concerned that the coordination may impact competition on the Sydney to Christchurch route, because Air New Zealand is the only other airline operating on that route. “We have included a condition in the draft approval, requiring Qantas and Emirates to provide the ACCC with information so we can monitor the competitive dynamics on this route during the term of authorisation,” Brakey said.

The ACCC is now seeking submissions in response to the draft determination by 12 July 2023, before making its final decision. The ACCC previously authorised this alliance in 2013 and 2018 with conditions. The 2018 authorisation was due to expire on 31 March 2023. On 23 March 2023, the ACCC granted interim authorisation to enable Qantas Airways Ltd, Emirates and their related entities (including Jetstar) to continue coordinating their operations while the ACCC assesses their substantive application for re-authorisation.

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