Emirates slashes New Zealand-Australia services

Emirates slashes New Zealand-Australia services

The New Zealand-Australia gap will be filled by Qantas, the airlines said on Thursday as they unveiled more details of their extended partnership, pending Australian regulatory approval.

Under the new joint partnership, they decided that Emirates will stop flying from Australia's Melbourne and Brisbane to New Zealand's Auckland and instead focus on its non-stop Auckland-Dubai service.

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

Meanwhile, Qantas will increase the frequency of its services between Australia and New Zealand, adding seven new return flights per week between Melbourne and Auckland and an extra two return services per week between Brisbane and Auckland.

Emirates in May posted its first annual profit drop in five years due to overcapacity, security concerns and a fall in regional business travel.

"Reauthorisation of the partnership will allow us to leverage our combined network strengths to offer customers even more flight choices and reciprocal benefits for our millions of frequent flyer members", Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said.

"Increasingly it is Qantas driving the Emirates partnership", the CAPA Centre for Aviation wrote in a research note in August.

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Following the latest changes, FlightGlobal schedules show that Emirates' only transtasman flight will be its daily Sydney-Christchurch services, which are operated by A380s. "The premise of the partnership has always been that we could serve our customers better together".

Given the choice, Qantas and Emirates might prefer flying passengers more directly rather than routing through Australia, and passengers would prefer it too. Neither party has disclosed the exact details or finances of the arrangement.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the changes would allow both airlines to leverage their network strengths; Emirates with its Dubai hub and Qantas with its dominant position in Australia.

"And equally, traffic from New Zealand can better connect with Qantas and then Emirates for flights to Dubai and the wider GCC - a market not served by Qantas or even Air New Zealand itself - so the potential to leverage the strength of Emirates own regional network and also by extension through partner flydubai will better serve customers flying out of New Zealand that now have no direct options to get to the GCC", said Ahmad. This is seen as part of its positioning to capitalise on a booming Asian market.

Emirates is withdrawing these trans-Tasman flights in March 2018, the same month Qantas begins its new Perth-London direct flights.

This was a reversal from the situation in 2013 when a troubled Qantas needed the deal to reassert itself as a global proposition.

Air New Zealand Ltd, the biggest flight operator between the two countries, is likely to benefit the most from the capacity cut, which could boost airfares.