Qantas and Air New Zealand will join forces in a codeshare partnership intended to isolate Virgin Australia, a former AirNZ ally but now common enemy to both airlines.
The alliance will see Qantas stamp its QF code onto 30 domestic AirNZ services across New Zealand, while the Kiwi carrier will in turn plant its NZ prefix on 85 domestic Qantas flight in Australia.
However, trans-Tasman and other international flights are excluded from the arrangement, which remains firmly planted on each airline's home turf.
Qantas and Air New Zealand business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers will enjoy reciprocal airport lounge access.
Travellers will also be able to earn points and status credits in each airline's respective loyalty program on flights booked under the appropriate codeshare.
Qantas says that its Jetstar NZ operation will remain, and in cases where a domestic Jetstar NZ flight offers the same or better connection against a trans-Tasman Qantas service than an Air New Zealand flight, the Jetstar flight will carry a QF codeshare but not the Air NZ flight.
The Qantas / Air New Zealand partnership will take effect from October 28 – the same day that the long-standing but often fractious trans-Tasman alliance between Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia is due to expire.
While this was expected to see fierce competition between the two airlines in a battle for their share of passengers ‘across the pond’, it's fair to say that nobody saw a Qantas-AirNZ hookup coming.
"Our relationship with Air New Zealand goes back almost 80 years," reflected Qantas CEO Alan Joyce at a media briefing this morning.
"We've been partners at various stages over that time and we have a lot of respect for them as a competitor."
"A codeshare deal on our domestic markets makes sense for our customers because it leverages the strengths we each have in our home markets."
The airlines promise that coordination of check-in and handling at airports "will mean shorter connection times, opening up more onward flights for customers on each carrier’s domestic networks and faster journey times overall."
Bookings on the codeshare QF/NZ services will be available from the end of July for these routes in New Zealand...
... and for our Kiwi readers, on the following Qantas flights within Australia.