Oneworld CEO: why I support the Qantas-Emirates alliance

By David Flynn, February 6 2013
Oneworld CEO: why I support the Qantas-Emirates alliance

British Airways might be not thrilled with Qantas’ unprecedented decision to stray outside the oneworld family and join forces with Emirates, but airline alliance CEO Bruce Ashby sees no harm for oneworld in the partnership.

“There’s a business niche and a need that Qantas wants to fill” Ashby reasoned in an interview with Australian Business Traveller. “Emirates is an excellent partner, and Oneworld didn’t have somebody who could step into that gap.”

“So why should we get mad and prevent it? People keep coming to me saying ‘How can you allow this, isn’t this disruptive?’... well, actually, no, it’s not disruptive. It’s a little complicated but it’s not disruptive.”

“(The Qantas-Emirates alliance) doesn’t hurt us, and it helps Qantas which is one of our members, and that’s what we’re about.”

“If by joining an alliance we told you you couldn’t do the things that were good for your business, because in joining our alliance you had to give them up, that would be a little insane.”

“And so we don’t bind anybody’s hands” says Ashby. “That wouldn’t be good for us, our members or the travellers. We love our flexibility.” 

“Yes, it does bring a few headaches on from time to time” Ashby admits, “but it’s worth the price.”

Patchwork alliances

Nor will Ashby entertain pundits who predict the slow demise of globe-striding alliances.

“I hear people saying alliances are outdated and unnecessary, but I don’t see it in the numbers. If you look at the travel between the top 100 business cities, 86 percent of revenue is on alliances, so that tells me we’re not quite dead yet.”

However, Ashby allows that bespoke alliances built around strategic ‘best fit’ principles – such as the ‘virtual network’ of Virgin Australia with links to Air New Zealand, Delta, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and others – have a place in oneworld’s world.

“You can build together a patchwork alliance of airlines, although they tend to be rather narrow in scope. They have really good cooperation between point A and point C but they kind of don’t get to point B and they kind of miss D through Z altogether.”

“As long as they go where you want to go and offer the benefits you want, that’s fine. I can’t argue with that. It’s just they lose on that simplicity of a worldwide schedule with rewards and recognition.”

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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.

06 Feb 2013

Total posts 4

“Emirates is an excellent partner, and Oneworld didn’t have somebody who could step into that gap.”

Am I the only one wondering where Qatar Airways fits in with all of this? Are they not about to join oneWorld? Are they not a Middle Eastern carrier with an extensive European network and and aggressive expansion policy? Do they not already have bilateral agreements with a few lower-par carriers (eg UA)? 

QR and QF's networks would have proven to be much more complimentary of each other's - QF could have operated SYD-DOH flights (something QR is not currently willing to do) and also ex BNE flights, complimenting QR's existing flights ex PER and MEL. It could have kept it all 'in the oneWorld family'. It also could have had more room for further actual expansion, not just QF handing over PER, ADL and BNE to EK. QR then would've benefited further from reach into NZ and secondary Australian ports (something EK arguably doesn't need and not does the ACCC wish to grant them in the case of Trans-Tasman flights). And as an added bonus, Y class pax wouldn't be enduring 10 across seating in EK's cramped 777s! 

06 Feb 2013

Total posts 12

Emirates flies to over 30 destinations in Europe, Qatar fly to around 13 or so. Much better for Aussies to get 1 stop flights to Europe.

06 Feb 2013

Total posts 4

Actually QR are already at 32 destinations in Europe, and seem to be growing a lot quicker there and across Africa than EK. 

Also, unlike many of EK's services, QR is actually 1 stop, not an extra middle of the night transit in KUL, SIN or BKK! 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 114

You need to get your facts right, yes majority of EK's services are via an immediate Asian city (SIN, KUL or BKK), however EK still does offer non-stop services to DXB from 5 Australian cities!

EK offers DXB-MEL/SYD/PER/BNE/ADL non-stop with atleast 1 daily flight each (SYD & PER gets 2), Thats a total of 7 daily non-stop flights to DXB everyday.

When you compare this to QR, they only offer a total of x2 Daily flights to Australia, only offering DOH-MEL/PER, which is by far not very convienent to other Australians.  

However you look at it; EK is more flexible and offers a more convenient schedule. If you don't like the stop over flights then choose the non-stop fight, its very simple. Another advantage is that EK offers A380 services on their non-stop flights exMEL & SYD.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Oct 2012

Total posts 129

I agree with Andy, if you are camparing "apples with apples" EK with QR , well at this point in time QR dont even come close to EK,s schedules out of Australia or their international network .

22 Jul 2011

Total posts 96

Yes, but just remember that the alliance was Emirates' brainchild

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 125

a QR relationship would have given more business to Qantas and would have kept everything in Oneworld


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 582

Qantas needed to go big to be successful, and Qatar is one of the smallest players out of Australia. They needed to build a network and market domination to rival Singapore Airlines, Cathay etc, and 28 weekly flights from 4 cities wasn't going to cut it.

Emirates offers them far more, right now. I'm sure they spoke to Qatar in depth, but I think they made the right decision in the end.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Oct 2012

Total posts 129

I think Qf,s worry was the Ethadt /VA allaince , so the only true way to compete with that was to have EK on its side. I think Ethiadt is the real sleeping giant of the middle East and if it wanted to , could pass EK very quickly ( if it wanted to) 

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