Renewal of Qantas-Emirates partnership is not the best deal, travel agents say

AFTA has submitted concerns to the ACCC about the partnership between Qantas and Emirates.

AFTA has submitted concerns to the ACCC about the partnership between Qantas and Emirates. Image: Qantas, Emirates, TND

The travel industry has voiced concerns about the impact of a renewed partnership between Qantas and Emirates airlines.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) submitted its concerns to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, saying the move would limit the choices available to consumers.

The airlines are seeking a five-year renewal of their 10-year standing agreement, which allows them to co-ordinate pricing, schedules, sales and tourism marketing on selected routes.

Despite the benefits for passengers, such as Qantas frequent flyer points on Emirates routes and access to Emirates airport lounges, AFTA is concerned the partnership will give the airlines control over 50 per cent of the market routes to Auckland and the UK.

The organisation also claims that airlines are holding back some fares to drive website traffic, leading to increased margins on their cheapest products.

“Aligning these activities appears to have the impact of limiting choices for consumers on how they shop and book travel,” the travel agents said in a submission to the ACCC.

Qantas and other Australian carriers have recently come under scrutiny,  with the ACCC saying in December it would “monitor them [airlines] closely” to ensure airlines were not withholding capacity on flights to keep airfares high.

It came after an ACCC report revealed the average revenue per passenger, an indication of average airfares across all fare types, was 27 per cent higher in October 2022 than in October 2019.

In their submission to the ACCC, Qantas and Emirates highlighted the public benefits of the partnership, including access to a larger travel network and increased frequent flyer redemptions.

An Emirates spokesperson told TND that the airline would “be responding to the claims made in AFTA’s submissions and will provide more information to the ACCC in the coming weeks”.

“Emirates’ long-standing partnership with Qantas has delivered tremendous benefits for our customers and trade partners,” they said.

TND contacted Qantas for comment.

International travel: Flight tips

International travel is still expensive due to the high demand and low supply of seats post-COVID-19.

Despite the high cost, popular routes such as Europe, South-East Asia and North America are in high demand.

international travel

Carrying you to destinations worldwide. Image: Getty

The New Daily spoke to the travel experts at EnPerSo Business Travel about how travellers can save money on flights.

  1. Advanced purchase: Booking a flight in advance will generally result in a cheaper fare due to better availability
  2. Longer travel time: By being willing to travel a bit longer and not taking the most direct route, travellers can potentially save money by finding cheaper options
  3. Use a travel agent: Travel agents have the expertise to construct airfares by mixing up carriers and airlines, offering travellers options that may not be available online
  4. Less popular destinations: Choosing less popular destinations or holidaying close to home can also reduce airfares.

Ivona Siniarska, a travel industry expert for 1000 Mile Travel Group, told TND that travellers should consider opting for a stopover during travel, saying that not only does it break up the journey, but it can also bring down the cost of travelling to different destinations.

Ms Siniarska also suggested that people consider airlines that offer competitive airfares despite taking a slightly longer route.

She said weighing factors such as time, budget, and route and taking the road less travelled can save people hundreds of dollars while making “the whole trip a little bit more exciting”.

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