British Airways and Qatar Airways have received final approval from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) to operate a joint-business in respect of flights between certain cities in Europe and Australia.
You could be forgiven for thinking the two airlines already had such a joint business for Australia, but that is not the case.
Whilst BA and Qatar have operated a joint business for some years, this only currently covers flights from the UK to Doha, and many destinations beyond Doha in Africa and Asia.
BA and Qatar have operated a codeshare for many UK – Australia routings such as Manchester – Doha – Melbourne or Cardiff – Doha – Perth which can be booked through BA as a codeshare.
The approval from the ACCC will allow BA and Qatar to take this beyond a codeshare and co-ordinate schedules and fares on a number of routes from Western Europe via Doha to certain cities in Australia which are Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth.
London – Sydney is not included in the joint business as BA serves this with its own aircraft, at least for now. Approval was sought before the outbreak of COVID-19, which is likely to have a significant impact on BA’s route network and timetable in the medium term.
Regulatory approval will take effect from 29 May 2020 and will last until 29 May 2025.
Whilst in theory regulatory approval allows BA and Qatar to co-ordinate schedules on these routes, it is unlikely we would see BA flying to Australia via Doha. The main driver behind this is for BA to take advantage of Qatar’s network to Australia from Europe and for Qatar to take advantage of BA’s distribution network.
The new joint business does not seem to disturb BA’s existing codeshares to Australia via Asia with Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Qantas.
Full details of the authorisation are available from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Update: BA has confirmed that the expanded joint business will take effect from 29 May 2020.