The Qantas-Emirates alliance: four years on...

By David Flynn, March 29 2017

TALKING POINT | This coming weekend sees the fourth anniversary of the alliance between Qantas and Emirates alliance, which formally launched on April 1, 2013.

The days of the familiar Singapore stopover en route to London are long gone, replaced by Dubai – but with that came access to the wider Emirates network, with scores of European destinations (including a half-dozen in the UK alone) just one flight away from Emirates' hub.

It seems that even the most rusted-on Red Roo flyers have become accustomed to Dubai, to the Emirates brand and its inflight experience.

Certainly, many now choose Emirates' Airbus A380s for quick trans-Tasman trips – it's the best business class across the pond, with the bonus of access to the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney or Melbourne and the option of a brief but indulgent spell in Emirates' first class suites.

But has the promise of travelling with Qantas to Dubai and then changing to an Emirates flight to a European or UK destination borne fruit?

Have you increased your flying on Emirates, perhaps at the expense of Qantas?

Have differences in the airlines' first class and business class, the Qantas-only premium economy cabin or Emirates-only inflight Internet service swayed your travel decisions?

Are you finding the perks of Qantas Platinum or Gold come in handy at Dubai and other airports, as well as inflight on Emirates – and are there any wrinkles which, four years on, still need to be ironed out?

Today we're asking Australian Business Traveller readers for their take on the Qantas-Emirates alliance, how you've come to regard the hookup and how it's changed your travel habits.

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.

28 May 2016

Total posts 128

I think the alliance has been good for QF flyers. Yes, the swap from SIN to DXB for the LHR flights was annoying at first but now it's fine. I still fly QF all the way to LHR, because I think QF's service is a bit more polished than EK's, but it is handy to be able to jump onto an Emirates flight when connecting to second tier European cities.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

I would still prefer SIN or HKG, DXB feels quite sterile to me, but the benefits have been good. Codeshare point benefits, one stop access to EU with mostly A380 connections - can't complain there. However I only book these two if I'm in and out of London and can go QF all the way or the mainland EK connection matches up well to QF9 or 10. I'm unfortunately just not a fan of EK J service food or seat but that's me. Trans Tasman though, they're unbeatable. 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 298

I've never flown into DXB, I'm still going to Europe via SIN and shortly I will also be checking out HKG as the stop over.  

qantas

10 Oct 2013

Total posts 113

being in adelaide the alliance has meant one stop flights - albeit with EK - to our european destinations and its great - ok i prefer QF but as QF dont support ADL with direct flights out of Australia then it has to be EK for lack of connections and therefore a faster trip - i have to say i still prefer QF J over EK J for its seat - but i do prefer service and food on EK - although crew are generally friendlier on QF - and as for the bling of DXB well best not said - but you cant argue that their lounges are generally incredible (especially First)

Qantas

01 Jun 2016

Total posts 19

I have flown the Syd-Dub-london on a Emirates flight 3 times in the last 12 months. I like the full flat bed in Emirates and the food. Furthermore, Before becoming Qantas Platinum, I liked the choices in the Emirates Business lounge as compared to the Qantas Business Lounge. Emirates have a bar at the back of the A380. 

I have also flown the etihad Syd-Abu-London. I like the Etihad on-arrival lounge (shave, iron, food, shower). However, I prefer the flat emirates bed. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 90

As we fly to Edinburgh, or Newcastle, we use either EK or QR. But have found that EK is much dearer, than QR.

29 Mar 2017

Total posts 1

I travelled with Emirate economy class to Cape Town via Dubai last year, the Emirate lounge in Dubai refused my entry despite I have my Qantas Gold frequent flyer card with me.  So I will not fly with them again.  

Etihad - Etihad Guest

06 Apr 2012

Total posts 89

I've had similar experiences as you, SingLok. (Lounge access in Dubai refused for Qantas Gold when travelling in Economy on a QF flight number). Following advice of fellow AusBT Community Forum members at the time I reported this to both the Emirates and Qantas customer feedback services. I was curious to see what their response would be. The reply from Emirates was quick - they basically said as a customer of Qantas the complaint will need to be handled by them. As for the response from Qantas - zilch !  

29 Mar 2017

Total posts 3

I have been a Qantas Gold or Platinium over the past 4 years and had no problems with accessing Emirates lounges when travelling on a Qantas or Emirates economy tickets.  The Qantas frequent flyer website states that access is provided to Qantas and Emirates lounges for Qantas Gold frequent flyers (refer to below):


My experience is that Emirates has very inconsistent services (both on the plane and on the ground).  It can be very good, indifferent or just outright lazy.  It looks like you had a bit of bad luck in coming across the ignorant.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Mar 2017

Total posts 2

I agree, will make sure I am on a QF number. Have been a Qantas Club member for 33 years and could not get into the Emirate lounge in Dubai or Zurich.

Since 2013, a lot about Qantas' product and value proposition have changed. While the number of international trips that I take with Qantas has decreased significantly since 2013, it is not exclusively due to the QF/EK alliance, although it is a significant factor.

i) Do I long for the days of QF/BA kangaroo code share routes? YES

ii) Do I long for the days of QFF being a neutral programme, with a focus on price competition rather than deploying preferential status credit earning rates as a competitive advantage? YES

To what extent is (i) a factor in the development of (ii) and the wider QF strategy of linking up with EK? I don't know. Though I cannot help but feel these things do not occur is isolation.

Upshot: I value Qantas as an excellent domestic carrier. For international trips however, I've largely written it off due to unfavourable pricing, poor frequency and timing, and the desire to avoid flying EK metal.

Perhaps my stance on QF is unfair. Granted I've chosen not to delve too deeply in the myriad of status credit earning rates across QFF partners. The "simplicity" of choosing Qantas in all instances to maximise status credit is unsatisfactory - I'm not one to be spoon fed. That coupled with the EK alliance is a non-starter for me.

30 Mar 2017

Total posts 3

Totally agree with this.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jan 2016

Total posts 61

The main function of the alliance is for me to fly a lot less with QF.  I find that DXB is neither a great airport or stop over.   I still fly QF to Europe but not as a default option as I may have before.  So I now tend to check what my options are via SIN before deciding.  

So for me this has been a really positive change,  previously I would have almost always gone QF to LHR and connected from there,  but now I will go with QF/EK if its a one stop in DXB  to say GLA. Or more often via SIN with other airlines.   Not sure if that was what Mr Joyce had in mind. 

JTG
JTG

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 40

I like and use the many options when flying to Europe, both in destinations and scheduling. The downside is the B777 is a terrible plane with the Emirates fitout and I try to avoid this.Being both QF platinum and Singapore PPS I do have a significant amount of options and good quality service to choose from

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 270

It would still be great to have Singapore as an option, I think the surveys clearly show this is the preferred stopover.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 140

I abandoned Qantas on flights from Perth to Europe 4 years ago as I detest Emirates.  I now go either with QR to Manchester or Edinburgh or with SQ to Manchester (twice per year). I abandoned Qantas in January 2016 for flights to USA from Perth and now fly that direction with Air NZ (4X per year).
rk1
rk1

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Oct 2015

Total posts 11

DBX airport is terrible and I have been denied loung use as a QC member flying to Europe on Emirates. I will not use Emirates and so the partnership has led to me seeking airlines other than Qantas. The Boeing 777 flights are particularly bad.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 569

DXB is a bit of a zoo compared with SIN.  Even the J class Lounge is overcrowded during the peak periods.

EK Y class is OK on A380 but not so good on the 777.  Space is not an issue on A380 (probably more than a QF A380) but service is slow and drink refills rarely offered.

I have only ever flown on a QF ticket so my Qantas Club membership has always allowed me entry into the Business Class Lounge in DXB but it is a potential trap that even some travel agents aren't aware of.

I'm off the AMS next month but avoiding QF/EK this time as they don't offer a morning arrival into AMS so I'm flying CX instead.

RG1
RG1

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 9

The ability to use QF points for award flights on EK metal with the, in my opinion, largely nicer product in F is the main benefit of the alliance for me.


For revenue flights I'll book whatever best meets the tradeoff between price/product (hard and soft)/schedule for the chosen destination, dates and class. I no longer limit myself to one alliance or partnership.

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

I use to transit via SIN/BKK/HKG, I do transit via SIN/BKK/HKG and I will transit via SIN/BKK/HKG. QF kicked me out from being their customer in en-route to Europe.

29 Mar 2017

Total posts 2

I don't like DXB as a stopover. It's fake and boring. But I continue to use QF through to Europe as a platinum FF. I do like using EK in F to NZ too. 

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 185

Ek first class even on the 777 are superior comparing to QF product,business class are similar in quality

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

EK J in 777 is truly and fully sux. As least in my books.

QantasFF

16 Nov 2012

Total posts 55

Don't want to go via the middle east especially DBX, so Cathay gets my business especially as they haven't abandoned Adelaide. A small (very) bouquet to QFF that they somewhat increased the partner earn rate ex ADL as a slight concession to their guilty consciences.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2014

Total posts 19

You cannot compare Emirates to Qantas for inflight service for premium passengers, there are quantum differences.  The seats on Emirates are better as well

29 Jan 2016

Total posts 21

From a FF point of view (in Perth) the alliance has not really given us much. QF/EK awards are not generous, and the add on fees are much more than other one world carriers. EK have dropped from three flights a day, to two a380's, and now back to one a380 and one 777, and of course a pathetic 737 to Singapore.
GFF
GFF

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Mar 2017

Total posts 2

Great Article.

So much nostalgia for me.  All my life since I was 2 years old I've spent time on a QF 747 at least once a year.  In my early 40's now seeing the 747 leaving QF's ranks just makes me feel strange and well, sad.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Sep 2016

Total posts 13

Is that Christopher Skase sitting in the back corner of Captain Cook picture 2?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 8

As a frequent Business Class traveller from Perth to various ports in Europe the EK Alliance is a huge bonus. 

The EK lounge in Perth is vastly superior - the QF lounge is pathetic. Overall flight times are much shorter, not having to go via Singapore or to LHR and double back to final destination. Overall EK onboard service is much better than QF.

The only negative and becoming more so each trip, is DXB is now beyond capacity and required transit times are extending.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 398

Qantas ticketed, Emirates metal in Business Class. Thats been my routine. Until Qantas respect their business Class pax with proper flat beds which don't sag, direct isle access and a more decent lounge/bar area Emirates metal all the way for me - while maintaining my points and and status with Qantas. Once the A380's are upgraded I'll re-evaluate.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jul 2013

Total posts 17

We flew Qantas business class to HK then on Emirates business class to Thailand and return. I find the service on Qantas far superior than Emirates. White wine served from the right aisle and red from the left. I was on the right side and wanted white. I was told my colleague will do his round and get you white. By the time the cabin staff did the whole left side of A380 and got to me in the front I had finished my dinner. On the return journey the young crew dropped the tray of pre dinner drinks on the seat behind me and the passenger was asked to go and sit at the back. Not impressed with their service.  We had an upgrade and weren't allowed into the Emirates lounge.  We will never fly via Dubai due to the governments attitude towards same-sex people.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Dec 2015

Total posts 3

I love Emirates to Europe - anything to avoid LHR! However, flights to Europe via SIN would still be very popular.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2014

Total posts 12

Have used the QF/EK alliance to Europe about 8 times in last four years. Was QF Platinum and now Gold and have never had any problem accessing Emirates lounges, including with spouse as my guest and when flying in economy. Really like the option of avoiding Heathrow and of open jawing, ie entering Europe in one port and leaving from another. Have enjoyed one stopover in Dubai, but usually stopover in Singapore. This is easily arranged by connecting in Dubai to EK operated, QF code shared flight. As with others I much prefer A380 to 777. 

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 259

I have zero interest in stopping in the ME, while loving SG, HK and Tokyo. Thinking long and hard about the carrier I use when next travelling to Europe.

Slightly OT, but has anyone here joined an Asian QF return flight with a separate carrier's Asia-Europe return? Interested in the level of pain that goes with this (if any). 

Oneworld interline rules apply. Via HKG, CX is now accomodating. Via SIN both BA and AY aren't. Via NRT/HND I believe JL would accomodate. All other ports are out of scope as there isn't a QF/other OW airline connection to Europe. Unless ticketed on the same booking (PNR), connections via other ports will be painful.

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 259

Thanks TRB!

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 53

As a long time QFF Plat / Plat1 that always travels solo in F, I prefer the privacy and comfort of the EK F Suite and actually prefer EK  B77W over A380 due to the smaller F cabin and more personalised service. The A380 with 2 shower suites are roomy and nice to have, but the shower is not something I tend to use anyway, as I will use the Lounge shower facilities if I really have the need.

QF A380 F still has good food and service, but the seating arrangement is half a generation behind EK / EY / SQ / AF.

Have flown EK in F many times over the Tasman to AKL and CHC on QF codeshares, and it's a no brainer compared to a domestic configured B737 business class.

Wish they would add JNB or other ports in southern Africa from DXB with QF codeshares on EK metal so I can get there in F, but can appreciate QF don't want to cannibalise the QF63 SYD-JNB.  Perhaps an opportunity to send a QFA380 to JNB a few times a week when they free up an aircraft from the MEL-PER/DXB- LHR schedule changes from Q2 next year?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

I guess it's personal preference but does it really matter if the stop over is at changi or Dubai.  I have become used to DXB and the showers in the lounge are a godsend. Plus the option of EK to all points if not continuing to London.  The Singapore stop only makes sense if you are laying over for a night or so and who in business world has that luxury 

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 90

Frankly, I now fly CX or BA and go through Asia. Better prices and better product. Also lots of other options. EK is a better option on a 380 than QF, but their 777 are not and attractive product, and I just don't like Dubai!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2017

Total posts 1

No way will I fly via Dubai with their governments attitude towards same-sex couples. Finnair via HKG offers best alternative with choice of QF or CX to/fro HKG. I also fly MEL-AKL regularly but stopped choosing the EK flight with inconsistent on board service, poor seat selection availability and crowded Emirates lounges. Honestly beige and woodgrain interior maybe popular in the ME but inot modern. Qantas First Lounge interior space and food service is the only way to fly.

EK crews may look beautiful but multi-cultural teams don't fill me with any confidence should there be any emergency on board. I was on board a QF recently during a medical emergency in the seat behind- all the crew were amazing.

QFF

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 151

Stopped using QF for int flights out of PER when they stopped transiting through SIN. Now there are many more operators with far better J products and prices that fly out of PER. Don't care about status any more - just look for a good J deal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 209

Being married to an EK IO cardholder, I have had the pleasure of enjoying many of the perks that EK roll out for their VIP frequent flyers. That said I still always choose QF over EK on my trips to between SYD and MEL and London (4-5 times a year) and often use BA from LHR to back track into Europe rather than connecting to EK services in DXB. I do fly EK from USA to India (2-3 times a year) simply because my husband's IO status often means an upgrade from Business to First. Call me nostalgic or old fashioned but I just much prefer the service from the QF cabin crew and I absolutely still miss the SIN and HKG stopovers that were possible under the old QF-BA arrangements. DXB is an impressive facility, the EK First Class lounge is lovely, but the whole place (much like Dubai itself) feels soulless and contrived. EK's First hard product (especially on the A380 - I just love being able to have a shower and change before I land) is a notch above QF's, but QF still wins on service and F&B in Business and First.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 362

Never been a fan of EK. Much prefer QF service in F and J. Dislike the Emirates J seat on 380 and 777. The F seat is fine and the showers are great, no doubt, but put the package together with service etc and in my view QF is way ahead. EK lounge in DXB is soulless, its big and flashy but nothing else. EK is all bling and no substance. I still do not like flying through DXB, much prefer SIN.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 326

I prefer the HKG stopover, but DXB is fine. And flight timings is the big issue for me - I like the overnight sector to be the longer one. There is no point trying to sleep between LHR and DXB or SIN and Australia - the sectors are too short. (As an aside, how anyone likes SIN as an airport is beyond me - the world's ugliest carpet and the ridiculous 'at the gate' security which makes it impossible to have a relaxed stroll from the lounge straight to the aircraft.
If Qantas offered me a choice between Dubai and Singapore, assuming both flights on an A380 (or Boeing 787) I'd still choose Singapore, especially if it had a proper first class lounge. Apart from that the Emirates alliance works fine for me, the Dubai lounge is great. But I haven't done QF1 to Dubai and then changed to an Emirates flight, the layover time is way too long, so when I have to fly somewhere in Europe apart from London I just book Emirates all the way.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Oct 2013

Total posts 13

It sucks that i cannot use my points on EK metal even with QF flight numbers! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 304

I'd much prefer a transit in Singapore than Dubai. Travelling via the Middle East is something I'll do (as I like to fly Qantas), but Dubai holds no interest to me what so ever. The Emirates alliance is good as it provides a one stop service to so many cities, but their 10 abreast in their Boeing 777 economy is bone-crushingly cruel - a bit like the Qantas 9-abreast 787 will be.

04 May 2016

Total posts 34

Is it really 4 years since I dumped Qantas and OneWorld mainly because of this ? How time flies when the grass is greener. Seems like every month there's another Qantas "enhancement" (that isn't) that vindicates my decision. Still flying to Europe via Asia, as it should be.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 20

QF/EK has been great since I can do overnight flights both ways maximising my day times in South East Asia /SIN from BNE....

The Ek 777 343 Y is not exactly the most comfortable... Also the J on EK. 777 is light years behind QF 330s.... What the alliance needs to  is work on consistency... J and Y are very different with Qf 330 J being way better with direct aisle seating and Y is decently wide enough... Whilst Ek 77ws j requires you to climb over your seat mate for the aisle and Y is basically like just as bad as D7 330s....

On the other hand QF has a worst J than EK with QF you have to climb over your seat mate for the aisle where EK is all direct aisle.... The alliance needs to look at consistency between the 2 carriers going forward...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 20

The layer part I am talking about is the A380...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2015

Total posts 43

The alliance has resulted in me only flying qantas enough to keep my platinum status, i fly Singapore, BA, Virgin and Cathay in preference.

The Qantas food and seat comfort just is not competitive anymore, and the less said about the dodgy electronics the better.

Thanks Alan J for getting me to try the alternatives

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Feb 2013

Total posts 14

Prefer to stop over in Singapore or Hong Kong after long flight from/to UK so have avoided EK/QF. They also don't have PE so that is a factor but they are reconsidering this apparently. I think proposed direct link between LHR and PER on QF will be popular and a game changer and even though I don't like LHR and it's poor Flight Connections set up I would use it to be able to take the new service. My guess is the QF strategy team will have more of these links as a smart long term alternative to the EK partnership and DXB as a hub.

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 118

At first I was Ok, this gives QF breathing space and in theory some efficiencies for passengers by aligning with EK. However I have overall been disappointed once you get into the detail. I think QF is great and for sure my preference to Asia and Latam. However for London flights I found:the SYD-DXB leg too long, made worse by the limited amount of food (and junk food snacks) on offer in economy; no status credit earn with EK flight nos.; the very long (5 hours+) connection times for onward continental  flights so no time save over LHR connections; the limited codeshare e.g. SYD-BKK-HKT-DXB-LHR can only be done with EK flight nos. even the SYD-BKK legs on QF metal (so no status credits); inexperienced EK crew, really just far too young and lacking the people and service skills of QF crew. Then above all this is the ethical question of supporting the UAE, environmental, fiscal responsibility and human rights esp. for gay people. So no I was loyal to the SYD - Sin / Bkk / Hkg - LHR with QF but I stopped two years ago and go via Asia again

01 Apr 2017

Total posts 8

Qantas - Emirates partnership is a dud.

As a plat 1 emirates treat you as a second class member. Qantas plat 1 cannot select your seat and be assured it's the seat you have when you board an emirates flight. Often they have the very old 3 in a row business seats and always seems qantas flyers are allocated the dreaded middle seat. I can't wait for the perth to London qantas flights and I can stopover in Perth rather than dubai. Only problem is qantas,s new business class seats are duds. Feet don't fit under when in bed mode, can't have option of 2 seats together for working or traveling with a friend or apart when traveling alone like most airlines do. Air Canada and Cathay have amazing business class beds. Seems Qantas don't ask their customers for feedback or input into the emirates relationship or anything for that matter like the new business seats that loyal qantas customers will be rewarded with having to endure bud business class beds for the next 10 years or so. I have been plat 1 for every year since introduced and never once have they "qantas " asked what I think as a customer, very strange. 

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 53

Plat 1 - not sure if you were aware, but if booking a QF codeshare on EK metal, I have found the seat request is only 'on request' if done via the QF system. Get the separate linked EK booking ref which is different from your QF one (QF agents can dig that out if you can't locate it in your booking), and use that to select your seats via EK website or EK Call Centre. I bounce between QF Plat & Plat 1 status and have always got my selected F or J seat when selecting via EK booking ref on their system. Hope that helps.

As for giving feedback, I reckon QF should have onboard surveys on the entertainment systems. For a couple of years running I would regularly get asked onboard EK & BA to do a paper based survey, but haven't seen those for a while. I gave feedback to EK on numerous occasion that if they have gone to the effort of the pop up drinks storage in the F suites, they should have at least made it chilled - will be interesting to see if the upcoming update to the EK F suites includes this feature.

11 Feb 2016

Total posts 15

Personally, I'm surprised to see so many people favoring Qantas over Emirates. I typically fly Qantas economy to/from SFO and MEL, so I've become accustomed to the product. However, I recently flew to LHR on a combo of Qantas and Emirates and found the quality of the product on Emirates to be far superior. More leg room, more and better food, real cutlery and dishes (read: not plastic), Wi-Fi, starlight on the ceiling. Qantas seats also seem designed to penalize anyone who dares attempt to take advantage of adjacent empty seats. At least in economy, Emirates is the clear winner in my eye.

11 Apr 2018

Total posts 1

Being a frequent flyer I have had terrible experience caught up among Emirates Qantas and Jetstar.

Purchase a ticket via Emirates noted of EK flight was told later we arw flying with Qantas. As a reult we dont get to choose any seats (flying with an infant, we need front row where possible) and was shuffed at a back seats of Qantas at the last minute. Then had to take a Jestar flight?

Both myslef and wife couldnt make it to the Hotel where booked where we had to stay in the airport hotel.

Son lost his voice we pretty nuch kicked around by the airport staffs and aur stewardess.

Flying is already tiring especially we had to be told and run counter to counter to figure out why we booked with emirates and fly with other airlines.

Pure nightmare where we had to be told at the counter during the process of transferring from Enirates and Qantas they have left my sons ticket out.

Got onto a Jetstar and told ee had to pay extra.

Horrible experience.


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