Business class and first class passengers of Qantas and Emirates will continue enjoying complimentary limousine airport transfers on flights to London and Europe, despite competitors such as Etihad Airways abolishing the free service on comparable routes.
However, this will hinge on the ACCC’s final determination on extending the partnership between Qantas and Emirates for a further five years.
In their application to the regulator, the airlines have said that "aligned benefits such as complimentary Chauffeur Drive... would not occur without the Proposed Conduct” being authorised.
The airlines' decision scotches rumours that the prized perk would be withdrawn by the end of this year.
Emirates also offers Chauffeur Drive to business class and first class flyers on its Sydney-Bangkok, Melbourne-Singapore and Brisbane-Singapore flights, but only when booked on an EK flight number: not as a Qantas QF codeshare passenger as part of the alliance, an arrangement that's expected to remain in place.
The airlines are also applying to expand their mutual partnership to Qantas’ new Melbourne-Perth-London and Sydney-Singapore-London flights – routes not covered by the current deal – on which Chauffeur Drive service will be offered to eligible passengers.
Aspects such as the earning and spending of frequent flyer points across both airlines and reciprocal airport lounge access also form part of the deal, and the airlines hope that the sheer volume of frequent flyer flight bookings will help highlight the benefits of the alliance to travellers.
For instance, since the partnership kicked off in 2013, Qantas Frequent Flyer members have booked 469,593 reward flights on Emirates using Qantas Points – approximately half of which were in business class and first class, qualifying for the complimentary Chauffeur Drive service.
In reverse, Emirates Skywards members have booked 70,559 seats on Qantas flights using their Skywards miles: around 85% of those being on Australian domestic flights, leaving about 10,000 Qantas international Skywards bookings.
Upgrades to business class and first class using frequent flyer points on the opposite airline remain off the table, however, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce previously confirmed to Australian Business Traveller.
The current partnership between Qantas and Emirates is due to expire on March 31 2018, unless extended.