Emirates president Tim Clark has raised the prospect of his airline and Qantas resuming abandoned talks over a code-share deal to Dubai and beyond, according to an intriguing story in the Australian Financial Review.
The newspaper reported that Clark suggested in an interview that management at both airlines had reached the point where they might reconsider lifting the existing interline agreement to a formal code share.
The paper quoted Clark saying: “I look at the way Qantas is today, and I think they would benefit from us as we would benefit from them.”
Qantas would not comment, but Clark presumably did not make his remarks for nothing. For Qantas, an Emirates tie-up would counter Virgin Australia’s commercial alliance with Etihad. It could also open up much of Africa, Asia and Europe.
A link with Qantas, however, it would go against the long-held policy of Emirates to avoid entangling alliances. Emirates is neither in the Star Alliance nor the oneworld pact nor any other alliance. One of the founders of Emirates, Sir Maurice Flanagan, said recently he felt that Emirates should continue to go it alone.
Flanagan, the founding chief executive of Emirates and currently the executive vice-chairman of the Emirates Group, is an extraordinary character who gave up a potential career as a football player to become a playwright – and then chose the more secure route of a promising airline career. He spent 25 years with BOAC and British Airways until being seconded from BA’s senior management to Dnata, the organisation appointed by the government of Dubai to run its travel and airport interests.
In 1985, the Dubai government employed Flanagan to launch Emirates.
Interviewed recently by the Arabian Supply Chain portal, Flanagan didn’t rule out codeshare agreements, such as the airline’s link with US carrier JetBlue, but he felt that Emirates’ strategy of remaining outside the web of airline alliances was the right course.
Flanagan said Emirates would “never dream of” joining an international aviation alliance. Such a move would “compromise too many things” and would require the carrier’s IT system to conform with that of the alliance.
How he would feel about some sort of alliance with Qantas is a moot point.
Emirates is one of the world’s most successful airlines, operating a modern fleet of 176 aircraft to 120 destinations. It’s also the world’s largest operator of B777s, an aircraft type that Qantas does not even possess.
Over the past year, Emirates has launched routes to Copenhagen, Geneva, Dublin, Buenos Ares, Seattle, Dallas, Lusaka, Harare, St Petersburg, Baghdad and Rio de Janeiro. Soon to follow are Ho Chi Min City, Washington, Barcelona and Lisbon.
Written by : Peter Needham