A Qantas Airways (L) and an Emirates Airlines Airbus A380 fly in formation during a flyover above Sydney March 31, 2013. The flyover was part of a promotion to mark the commencement of the five-year alliance between struggling national flag carrier Qantas Airways Ltd and Emirates Airline. - Reuters

SYDNEY: Two Airbus A380s made a dramatic tandem flight over the Sydney Harbour Bridge Sunday to launch the new Qantas-Emirates partnership, hailed by the Australian carrier as a “seismic shift” in aviation.

The tie-up, approved last week by Australia's competition watchdog, allows the two airlines to combine operations for an initial period of five years, including coordinating ticket prices and schedules.

It will also see Qantas switch its hub for European flights from Singapore to Emirates' Dubai base as it attempts to turn around its struggling international business.

“Dubai is the best hub for Qantas in the 21st century,” the company's chief executive Alan Joyce said after watching the flyover by superjumbos from both airlines at 1,500 feet (450 metres) over Sydney's famous landmark.

“It is eight hours' flying time from 75 per cent of the world's population.” Joyce said the deal was one of the most important strategic initiatives Qantas would ever make, offering benefits to customers in terms of network and frequent flyer benefits and cutting flight times to top European destinations.

“This is one of the biggest days in Qantas's 92-year history. That's because this partnership will play a critical role for us into the future,” Joyce said.

“This joint network with Emirates is a key part of tackling the structural challenges that Qantas International is faced with; but more than that it is a seismic shift in global aviation.” At a press conference with Joyce, president of Emirates Tim Clark said the stitching together of the airlines' services had created a “game-changing partnership” providing “one of the most formidable aviation networks in the world.”

He said the aviation sector had not previously contemplated a partnership of this scale, particularly involving Emirates which historically had not been keen on forming partnerships.

The alliance is seen as vital to the sustainability of Qantas, which last year posted its first annual deficit since privatisation in 1995 due to tougher competition and high fuel costs for its international arm.

For Emirates customers, it opens up Qantas's Australian domestic network of more than 50 destinations.

Australia's Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said he believed the arrangement would benefit Qantas and Emirates, but also Australian businesses and holidaymakers travelling to Europe and northern Africa, as well as Australian tourism.

“But it is also the case that we live in a world whereby, as an end point destination, Qantas couldn't continue to be exactly as it has been in the past,” Albanese said.

“We do need partnerships, which are a fact of the global aviation industry.” Aviation analyst Geoffrey Thomas said the partnership was a sign of the times.

“It recognises that the hub of aviation is moving from Asia to the Middle East,” he told Sky News, adding that while Asia would remain dominant, the Middle East made more sense for European journeys.

The first Qantas flights departing from Sydney and Melbourne to London via the international hub of Dubai were due to leave Sunday.

Qantas said the feat by the two super-jumbos is thought to be the first time anywhere in the world that two commercial airline A380s have flown in formation. Pilots from both airlines completed dozens of special simulator training sessions, with Emirates pilots travelling Down Under this month to train in Qantas's A380 simulator.

Updated Mar 31, 2013 01:32pm

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Comments (6) (Closed)


Urooj Saifi
Mar 31, 2013 10:55am
PIA and Turkish Airlines could have done the same however our people are hanging onto the past while the world overtakes us. I am in Rwanda these days and I can see they are progressing better than us in Pakistan. WAKE UP PAKISTAN .
abbastoronto
Mar 31, 2013 06:07pm
I agree that an alliance would have made sense. But why with Turkish Airlines? Visit the place first and see that the match was flawed. The two people have nothing in common, not even religion. The Turks can no longer read what is written in their mosques 100 years ago.
Khalid
Mar 31, 2013 06:17pm
Progressing better then us is not a good enough description. With almost 7.7% growth in GDP in 2012, Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies in the world (China is at number 9 with 7.8%). Please don't compare Pakistan "progress" to Rwanda, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Mozamique, South Sudan, Bhutan, Libya, Iraq and Congo etc. By the way, all of the countries I mentioned are listed as the world's top 20 fastest growing economies. Just waking up Pakistan and Pakistanis would not help. To be counted as a nation who cares about its future, we would have to do something more than just waking up.
Afzal Khan
Mar 31, 2013 11:21pm
Pakistan need a wake up call other wise Pakistan will be to far behind the world that they will never catch up to even the poorest countries.
qureshi imtiaz
Apr 01, 2013 12:49am
You are 100% right on this- PIA is the only Airline - trained 39 other airlines - Due to POOR Management- PIA lost all the revnue to others- good example is EK- has dialy 5 flights out to DXB from karachi- not counting ISB/LHE/PEW
Khalid
Apr 01, 2013 07:00am
You information about Turkey leaves a lot to be desired. It is the fastest growing economy in Europe. So when you look for business alliances, do you look for how well they follow their religion?. Not sure what business school you go to!. What makes you so confident about Pakistan where 100% people can read what is written on our mosques but how does that make it a better country?. I wish we had a Kamal Ataturk in Pakistan.