BA, Qatar alliance for Australian flights gets the go-ahead

British Airways will piggyback on Qatar Airways' extensive network, with over 100 routes on the roster.

By David Flynn, May 7 2020
BA, Qatar alliance for Australian flights gets the go-ahead

British Airways and Qatar Airways will partner on flights between the UK, Europe and Australia under a five-year joint business agreement set to take wing in the second half of this year.

The pact, approved today by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to take effect from 29 May 2020, strides well beyond the current "arm’s length codeshare and interline arrangements" relationship of both airlines.

It will allow for BA and Qatar to co-ordinate on schedules, pricing, sales and marketing, capacity, frequent flyer programs and lounge access on routes "between four Australian cities and the UK/Europe (which) operate via Doha" – those cities currently being Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

The northern hemisphere end of the alliance taps into over 100 destinations predominately in the UK, France, Germany and Spain.

Sydney is the sole exception, as the ACCC notes it is already served by both BA and Qatar Airways, with the Sydney-London route "highly contested... any attempt by the Parties to co-ordinate on the routes would be quickly defeated by the other airlines who offer services on the route, including Qantas, Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific."

The consumer watchdog says "the coordination is likely to result in public benefits from enhanced products and services due to more convenient travel options and improved customer services," and is unlikely to result in public detriments partly due to "the strength of competitors on relevant routes."

Beyond being members of the Oneworld alliance, Qatar Airways holds a 25.1% stake in British Airways' owner IAG.

The application by British Airways and Qatar Airways promised passenger upsides of

  • more compelling and competitive travel options, such as by adjusting schedules to offer more convenient connection times
  • seamless journeys when connecting between the Applicants on indirect services through enhanced customer support in London and Doha and reciprocal lounge access
  • seamless booking and check-in on either Applicant’s website
  • enhanced access to both Applicants’ frequent flyer programs
  • fare combinability leading to a greater number of frequency choices for passengers, and
  • optimised scheduling across both airlines (which is expected to increase efficiencies and generate cost savings)

Other passenger benefits called out include "the ability to jointly offer loyalty benefits, including reciprocal earn and burn of frequent flyer points" – benefits already included through both airlines' membership in the Oneworld alliance, but which at the same time could be beefed up as part of the JV.

And rather than the BA/QR tie-up reducing competition on the Kangaroo Route, the ACCC said it "considers that rival airlines will continue to strongly compete for passengers between Australia and the UK/Europe".

Front-runners in that race include "Qantas and Emirates, cooperating under an alliance", Singapore Airlines – with its Changi Airport hub serving as "a major transit point for UK / Europe-bound travellers" and China Southern and China Airlines, "operating between Australia and the UK / Europe, with mid-points in Guangzhou and Taipei."

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2017

Total posts 36

Put my first kidney up for wager that BA exits Sydney permanently unless this ruling says they have to continue services into Syd on their own metal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Nov 2017

Total posts 5

With Sydney not agreed too I think BA will still fly their metal... keeps their mantra of flying to every continent too.

However the effect of covid-19 may change things! I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

British Airways - Executive Club

06 Apr 2018

Total posts 8

No BA do well on the route - try getting an award seat. Typically impossible.

Strong rumour that BA was about to start Melbourne (until COVID hit)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Oct 2019

Total posts 10

I disagree on the award seat point, very easy to find availability especially on the Sydney-Singapore and SIN-SYD legs. Also usually availability on one of the two BA flights from LHR to Singapore.

British Airways - Executive Club

06 Apr 2018

Total posts 8

Sydney is in the bottom 10 routes for award availability on BA (there is a Head for Points article on the topic if you google it). Recently they seem to have changed policy and release seats on quite days a few weeks out... route typically has pretty good loads though

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Oct 2019

Total posts 10

Im glad you can read articles, but a quick search for award availability from Singapore to Sydney in the second last week of December shows seats in economy, premium economy and business being available across a 5 day period. Those seats have been there since before the pandemic started so you can't blame that for the award availability.

British Airways - Executive Club

06 Apr 2018

Total posts 8

Given BA release seats 355 days in advance those seats were released early Jan at the earliest. That didn't allow much time before the pandemic hit and forward bookings fell off a cliff (Singapore activated code orange on Feb 7)... I dont think 5 days of availability can be extrapolated to general availability on a route...

31 May 2013

Total posts 19

I believe QR have reached their bilateral limits on flights - no more than 21 a week to capital cities, which covers SYD/MEL/PER (ADL/CBR-SYD flight our outside of this), thus why no QR to Brisbane. Depending on the post covid situation we could see BA send a 787 LHR-DOH-BNE in cooperation with QR to cover all AU markets with limited risk.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1000

Yes, the current AU-QR air service agreement allows for 21 weekly flights between DOH and PER/MEL/SYD/BNE while other international ports are unlimited, with an additional 7 to PER/MEL/SYD/BNE provided go to/via an unlimited port.

QR was recently allowed limited extra flights due to the Covid-19 issues.

Unless the 21 limit increases, QR can't serve BNE unless they cut elsewhere, however they could add flights to OOL.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 543

What a match.

BA are terrible in the air but very professionally run, ground ops etc all world class.If BA started using the A350 with new business suites that would balance out at least the hard product however)

Qatar are an amateurish basket case on the ground, esp when things need to change or problems arise but are simply amazing in the air.

What a roller coaster in-flight experience transferring between both carriers might be for future travellers in reaching their final destination. Also wonder what Al Safwa First lounge access at DOH will be for BA operated/ticketed flights considering it's currently strictly for QR F pax only.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Nov 2017

Total posts 5

Al Safwa is also available for platinum (privilege club) whilst flying business. Raises the questions of how tight their new joint venture will be with regards to lounges. You wonder if Al Safwa/ Concorde room agreements?

28 Sep 2018

Total posts 12

2 years ago we flew Qatar to LHR and elsewhere from Perth. I used my BA Executive Club card. My wife is a Qatar FF member. She achieved Silver status. I expected an equivalent upgrade with BA but then found you have to fly 2 segments on a BA plane as part of the qualification for a status upgrade. I got my points but no status change. So last year, I joined Qatar FF and on a similar routing, achieved Qatar silver. Next routing will get me gold.

If BA is serious about these alliances it needs to change how it rewards Exec Club members where there is no BA plane. I used to be BA gold but then they abandoned not only UK Regions but our side of Australia. They introduced lifetime points which was a great idea for long standing members whose travel pattern had changed (like retirement or less globe trotting). My lifetime points total didnt even get me back to Bronze as they omitted so many flights I had been on. Even proof of a return ticket booking was not accepted. So I had booked over the years return flights from UK to all over the USA and Canada, all in Business, but in many cases only one way flights were credited. I had email proof or travel agent records of bookings but BA would not accept an appeal unless you could provide boarding cards (for flights going back over 20 plus years!). So BA lost my goodwill although I still have a soft spot for them only because I am a Pom.

BAEC

10 Jul 2019

Total posts 14

BA make it quite clear that you need to fly a minimum of 4 flights on a BA aircraft to requalify or to move to the next level....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 24

Just like Qantas and Virgin do........

28 Sep 2018

Total posts 12

I didnt realise they did this as the first website FAQ says:

'You'll earn Tier Points every time you fly with us, our oneworld airline partners and subsidiaries.'


Then after the tier point levels you find this under FAQ on

How to get to each tier

Bronze:

  • Simply fly with us at least twice and earn 300 Tier Points, or
  • Take a total of 25 British Airways flights.

Silver:

  • Fly with us at least four times and earn 600 Tier Points, or
  • Take a total of 50 British Airways flights.

Gold:

  • Fly with us at least four times and earn 1,500 Tier Points.


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