Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

E tu welcomes Emirates' exit from most trans-Tasman services

E tu welcomes Emirates' exit from most trans-Tasman services

It follows an announcement earlier this year by the airline to stop the Auckland-Sydney service.

From March 2018, Emirates will stop flying daily services to the New Zealand city of Auckland via Melbourne and Brisbane and will only continue its non-stop Auckland-Dubai service.

The changes from March next year mean Qantas will increase the frequency of its services between the two countries, adding seven new return flights per week between Melbourne and Auckland and an extra two return services a week between Brisbane and Auckland.

Emirates, which operates the world's largest wide-bodied fleet, now flies its flagship Airbus A380 superjumbos daily from Melbourne and Brisbane to Auckland and back, and the international-grade business class seats and first class suites have proven popular with business travellers.

That pullback in seats should be welcomed by Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia, who have a joint-venture on trans-Tasman routes.

"These changes reflect customer demand and the airlines' respective network strengths and provide more options for customers to travel between Australia and New Zealand to Asia, the UK/Europe, Middle East and Africa", said the statement.

Wednesday's move is a strong signal from Emirates that it has built a strong enough presence in the New Zealand market to go it alone on long-haul routes.

Tickets for Qantas' new Tasman services will be available progressively from 12 October, and Emirates customers with existing bookings impacted by these changes will be re-accommodated onto Qantas services or will be given the option to change their flights.

Emirates President Tim Clark said demand on its Australia-Auckland flights had been hit after the launch of a non-stop flight between Dubai and Auckland previous year and due to competition from new entrants like Taiwan'sChina Airlines Ltd.

Emirates began direct Auckland-Dubai flights in March 2016, and many passengers from New Zealand shifted to those instead of flying through Australia.

The changes are part of the the pair's application to authorities in Australia and New Zealand to extend the alliance that was first struck in 2013 for a further five years, and which also cover previously announced return to Sydney-Singapore-London Heathrow flights and the start of Melbourne-Perth-London Heathrow Boeing 787-9 services.

"Reauthorisation of the partnership will allow us to leverage our combined network strengths", he said.

According to the airlines, since 2013 more than 8 million passengers have travelled on the joint network, travelling more than 65 billion kilometres.

It will also be reorganising its Australia flights "to create a better spread of departure times throughout the day" Qantas said in a statement.

Given the choice, Qantas and Emirates might prefer flying passengers more directly rather than routing through Australia, and passengers would prefer it too.

Centre for Aviation (CAPA) commentary ahead of the August news, said Qantas had the upper hand in the partnership, but that it was worthwhile for Emirates to maintain the deal to avoid the risk of Qantas teaming up with an Emirates competitor.

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