Aussie consumer regulator grants interim extension to Qantas, Emirates alliance

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has given the alliance between Qantas and Emirates a temporary extension while it assesses the airlines’ application for final authorization.

Qantas and Emirates’ existing five-year authorization is due to expire at the end of March 2023. 

Under the existing authorization, Qantas and Emirates can coordinate their passenger and cargo operations across their respective networks, covering routes between Australia and UK/Europe, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. 

The airlines have made a new application for authorization so they can continue their operational coordination for another five years after the existing authorization expires. 

“The interim authorization commences immediately and allows the parties to continue coordinating their operations while the ACCC considers and evaluates the merits of the substantive application for authorization,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said in a statement.

“The ACCC may review the interim authorization at any time and its interim authorization decision should not be taken to be indicative of whether or not final authorization will be granted,” Brakey added.

Travel agents’ concern

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has raised concerns with the ACCC around the extension of the Emirates and Qantas’ partnership.

Australian travel industry publication Karry On reported that AFTA is concerned the authorizations may have a negative impact on travel advisors and consumers, and questions whether the extended agreements will do anything to bring down currently high airfares.  

In its formal submission to ACCC, AFTA said that it opposes the 10-year authorization period requested by Emirates and Qantas, and submits that if reauthorized, five years should be the absolute maximum period of authorization. 

In particular, AFTA said that in its view, “there is a large concentration of power within one or two operators, and the public nature in which announcements are made. AFTA’s view is that it is easy for other players to replicate the activity which due to their market share becomes the normal operation of the market.”

The ACCC said it may grant authorisation when it is satisfied that the likely public benefit from the conduct outweighs any likely public detriment.

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