Emirates and Qantas A380s at Dubai. (Gerard Frawley)
Qantas will drop flights to Dubai and bring back a Singapore stopover for travel to London as it seeks to renew its alliance partnership agreement with Emirates for a further five years.
Under the new flight schedule that will begin on March 25 2018, Qantas will end its daily Airbus A380 Sydney-Dubai-London Heathrow rotation, with QF1/2 to instead operate on a Sydney-Singapore-London Heathrow routing.
Qantas is also upgauging its daily QF35/36 Melbourne-Singapore flight to the A380, from A330 equipment currently, and increasing its schedule on the route to double daily, from 10 times weekly now.
The airline announced previously the end of its Melbourne-Dubai-London Heathrow service in March in favour of a Melbourne-Perth-London Heathrow offering.
Emirates will not codeshare on the Singapore-London and Perth-London services due to traffic rights restrictions.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce says the network changes were an evolution of the partnership with Emirates.
“Emirates has given Qantas customers an unbeatable network into Europe that is still growing. We want to keep leveraging this strength and offer additional travel options on Qantas, particularly through Asia,” Joyce said in a statement on Thursday.
“Our partnership has evolved to a point where Qantas no longer needs to fly its own aircraft through Dubai, and that means we can redirect some of our A380 flying into Singapore and meet the strong demand we’re seeing in Asia.”
The network changes will form part of Qantas and Emirates’ application to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for a five-year extension to their existing alliance, which commenced in 2013 and resulted in Qantas shifting its European hub from Singapore to Dubai.
Qantas said the restructured alliance would deliver it an “annualised net benefit estimated at more than $80 million from FY19 onwards.”
Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said the alliance had been a success for both carriers.
“Together we deliver choice and value to consumers, mutual benefit to both businesses, and expanded tourism and trade opportunities for the markets served by both airlines. We remain committed to the partnership,” Clark said.
“Emirates has worked with Qantas on these network changes.”
Clark said Emirates would shortly announce more details on offering an “even stronger product proposition for travel to Dubai, and onward connectivity to our extensive network in Europe, Middle East and Africa”.
The Qantas move to end flights to Dubai comes as consumer surveys have overwhelmingly indicated a preference for an Asian stopover rather than one through the Middle East en route to Europe.
Giving Qantas passengers a choice of Dubai (on Emirates equipment) or Singapore (on Qantas aircraft) for a stopover to Europe mirrors what Virgin Australia already offers travellers through its partnership with Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Etihad Airways.
Of course, Qantas is also starting Perth-London Heathrow services in March, linking the continents Europe and Australia nonstop with regularly scheduled flights for the first time.
“Improvements in aircraft technology mean the Qantas network will eventually feature a handful of direct routes between Australia and Europe, but this will never overtake the sheer number of destinations served by Emirates and that’s why Dubai will remain an important hub for our customers,” Joyce said.