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Qantas plans to continue its alliance with Emirates and use Dubai as a hub airport for connecting passengers, even as it launches more non-stop flights between Australia and Europe.
The March 2018 debut of direct Perth-London flights on the airline's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is likely to be followed by a second European city – tipped to be Paris – by the second half of next year, after Qantas brought forward the delivery of its next four Boeing 787s.
Other European cities cited by Qantas as likely candidates for additional non-stop Dreamliner flights include Rome and Frankfurt, once the airline takes up additional Boeing 787 orders to grow its fleet.
However, Qantas will also seek to renew its current five-year partnership with Emirates which began in April 2013.
Non-stop vs the Emirates network
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association's annual general meeting in Cancun, Mexico this week, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that "even when we start flying direct to London, still Dubai will play a big role."
"Emirates has 40 destinations in Europe. We're never going to fly direct to places like Venice and Prague."
That extensive network was a key plank in the original Qantas-Emirates alliance, which also saw Dubai replace Singapore as the stopover point for the airline's Kangaroo Route between Australia and London.
However, once Qantas launches its direct Perth-London flights the airline will shutter its Melbourne-Dubai-London Airbus A380 service – and Fairfax Media notes that "Qantas would not be drawn on whether Sydney to London flights would eventually route via Perth."
'Dubai' and 'direct' not in competition
Joyce expects that flights via Dubai will carry the bulk of the airline's European-bound travellers, while the direct Boeing 787 services – which carry fewer passengers and are likely to come with a price premium – will be more niche.
Qantas is also planning longer-range direct flights such as Sydney to London and Melbourne to Rome – both without the need to stop at Perth – as well as non-stop flights to New York, Chicago and Boston.