British Airways and Qatar Airways have applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to coordinate their services on a number of routes between Australia and the UK. This joint business venture would see collaborations on nine ‘key routes’ between the UK and Australia, via Doha. Collaboration points include scheduling, pricing, marketing, and more.
The key routes
The application made to the ACCC highlights nine routes to connect four Australian cities with the UK, operating via Doha. Currently, the Australia-Doha leg of the routes are serviced by Qatar but not BA, with the exception of codeshare relationships with Qantas and/or Qatar.
The nine ‘key routes’ highlighted in the joint business proposal are:
- Adelaide – Manchester
- Adelaide – London
- Canberra – London
- Melbourne – London
- Melbourne – Edinburgh
- Melbourne – Manchester
- Perth – London
- Perth – Edinburgh
- Perth – Manchester
The proposal excludes Sydney, saying that the airlines will continue to “operate as independent competitors” when flights terminate or originate in the city.
According to Executive Traveller, BA and Qatar Airways “are seeking interim authorization as soon as possible” for the joint venture. The airlines wish to have this agreement extend through to 2025, and interim authorization is requested by early February in advance of a final decision.
Ensuring healthy competition
Within the proposal to the ACCC, the airlines assert that there will be no detriment to competition. The submission notes that Emirates, Qantas, Etihad, and other airlines “continue to impose substantial competitive pressure” in the market. Furthermore, the submission states that competing airline alliances Star Alliance and SkyTeam have “similar or larger shares than oneworld”. Both BA and Qatar are significant members of the oneworld alliance.
The airlines also assert that consumers and the greater public will benefit from this partnership as it offers more schedule flexibility for travelers as well as greater diversity in product and a “more attractive range of fares”.
In fact, the proposal promises an end-result of “lower average per-passenger costs and, in turn, lower fares as strong competition from other major airlines and alliances means cost efficiencies will be passed on.”
Current options for BA travelers to Australia
While no non-stop services exist yet, several great one-stop options are available for passengers loyal to British Airways and oneworld.
Currently, British Airways offers daily flights to Sydney via Singapore. However, customers also have the option to fly with British Airways to Singapore and then onwards to Perth, Melbourne or Brisbane with codeshare partner Qantas. Similar codeshare connection options exist for BA and Qantas through Bangkok.
Alternately, British Airways flies twice daily to Hong Kong, allowing for British Airways codeshare flights operated by both Qantas and Cathay Pacific. From Hong Kong, travelers can connect to cities such as Melbourne and Brisbane with Qantas, or to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane or Cairns with Cathay Pacific.
Unfortunately, if flying with BA, many of these flights originate in London. Therefore, flying from other UK cities would require more stops.
The proposed joint venture also makes mention of “enhanced access” to the frequent flyer programs and lounges of both parties – more than what is currently offered through oneworld. However, there were no details on what this actually enhanced access looks like.
The proposal is correct in highlighting the intense amount of competition between the UK and Australian cities – with Emirates offering a fairly diverse selection of UK and Australian options. Should this proposal be approved, we would be very excited to see fares go down as the competition heats up.
With so many options, travelers can choose between Emirates or Qatar, or go with a BA-Qantas, BA-Cathay Pacific combination when flying between the UK and Australia. What would be your airline (or airline combination) of choice?
We reached out to both British Airways and Qatar Airways with requests for comment on the proposal. However, no response was received at the time of publishing this article.