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Qantas prepares for Emirates partnership

24 Jan 2013 by BusinessTraveller

With Qantas and Emirates receiving interim approval from the Australian Competitions and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for their forthcoming global partnership (see online news January 23), both carriers have stepped up communication with customers on what the agreement will mean for the passenger.

Speaking to Business Traveller at the new Me London hotel this week, regional general manager for Qantas Airways UK / Ireland Eric Jelinek outlined a series of changes coming over the next few months.

The long-standing BA-Qantas Joint Services Agreement (JSA) will terminate at the end of March, at which point Qantas will switch its flights to route through Emirates’ Dubai hub. Flights with this new routing are now available for purchase at qantas.com.au.

Jelinek stressed that the move will not see Qantas pulling out of London or the Oneworld alliance, with the carrier continuing to offer two daily A380 services between the capital and the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

He also confirmed that schedules into and out of London would remain the same “as these are driven by slots at Heathrow”.

Qantas will continue to codeshare on BA feeder routes to London from Aberdeen, Leeds and Edinburgh, but from the end of March the carrier will no longer codeshare on BA’s routes to London from Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow, instead offering regional customers a codeshare on Emirates’ flights from these cities (as well as Birmingham) directly to Dubai and onwards.

At Heathrow Qantas will continue to use BA’s Galleries lounges at Terminal 3, and eligible members of Qantas’s Frequent Flyer programme and Emirates’ Skywards scheme will have reciprocal access to both of the carriers’ sets of lounges at the terminal.

Jelinek also spoke of several product enhancements launching between now and the start of the global partnership, and on several occasions spoke of Qantas and Emirates “aligning products to the highest customer offering”.

This means that from the start of April Qantas will offer its business and first class passengers a complimentary chauffeur drive service on the London-Dubai-Australia route (see online news January 16), mirroring a similar Emirates benefit for its premium customers.

The service then be extended to Qantas flights over 12 hours in length (ie: from Australia to Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, Santiago and Johannesburg) from July.

In addition Qantas is rolling out a new business class turndown service, with crew making up passengers’ beds with a new mattress and duvet. The service launched on flights out of London last week, and will roll out across the carrier’s long-haul network.

With the launch of the five-year partnership Qantas will also become the only airline aside from Emirates to use the new state-of-the-art dedicated A380 concourse at Dubai airport’s Terminal 3.

The agreement will also see Qantas adding Halal menu options to its food and beverage offering on flights routing via Dubai, and the carrier will work with local caterers to fulfill this.

Jelinek said that gaining interim approval from the ACCC had allowed the two carriers to start talking in more detail about scheduling, pricing and FFP benefits, and commenting on Qantas’s decision to end the JSA with British Airways and form a new partnership with Emirates, he said that BA “understands totally the reason for this, and has been extremely collaborative and professional”.

Qantas is also trialling a new pre-order meal service for its first and business class passengers, called Select on Q - Eat. Currently only available on routes to the US, passengers can order their meals online up to 24 hours before departure, with several choices exclusively available through the pre-order service.

For its part Emirates has begun contacting its Skywards members explaining the new partnership, and has also published a Frequently Asked Questions section on earn and burn privileges on Qantas-operated flights for travel on or after March 31. Full details of these can be seen here.

For more information visit qantas.com.au, emirates.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

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