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Emirates will axe its Melbourne-Auckland and Brisbane-Auckland fights as of 25 March 2018, handing the bulk of its trans-Tasman flying over to partner Qantas.
The Gulf carrier currently flies its flagship Airbus A380 superjumbos daily from Melbourne and Brisbane to Auckland and back, and the international-grade business class seats and first class suites have proven popular with business travellers.
Qantas will fill the gap by boosting the number of flights across the pond in order to comply with the requirements of the original Qantas-Emirates alliance, which both airlines are seeking to extend to 2023.
This will include seven new return flights per week between Melbourne and Auckland and an extra two return flights per week between Brisbane and Auckland, with some of these moving from a Boeing 737 onto the larger and more comfortable Airbus A330 with its superior business class.
Qantas says its new trans-Tasman timetable will see flights "connect seamlessly to Qantas’ London services via Perth or Singapore" as the airline also looks to eat into the London-bound market of competitor Air New Zealand.
Emirates will retain a daily Dubai-Sydney-Christchurch Airbus A380 as its only trans-Tasman service and also reschedule its Australia flights "to create a better spread of departure times throughout the day", the airline said in a statement, aimed at improving connections at its Dubai hub.
Emirates CEO Tim Clark told Reuters that demand on its Australia-Auckland flights was reduced after the airline launched non-stop flights between Auckland and Dubai last year, leaving the superjumbo as too large an aircraft for the trans-Tasman hop.
“I guess if we had a smaller aeroplane we might not have” cancelled the New Zealand flights, Clark told Reuters. “The A380 is just too big for the market.”
Today's announcement marks the third set of trans-Tasman superjumbo flights on which Emirates has pulled the plug, following the July 2017 ditching of A380 flights between Sydney and Auckland in order to "optimise capacity on this route in line with changes in demand" on the highly-competitive route.
At the time the airline claimed it had no plans to drop the sibling Airbus A380 flights from Melbourne and Brisbane to Auckland, saying that Sydney-Auckland aside, "all other Emirates Trans-Tasman services will continue to operate as normal."