Business travellers heading from Australia to the UK and Europe will be the big winners in the Qantas-Emirates alliance, which has now received tentative approval from the Government's competition watchdog.
Not only does the partnership deliver a dramatic boost to the number of flights and UK destinations, there's even a choice of airports for London itself.
The Red Roo's new route
As we've previously detailed, Qantas will adopt Dubai as its new hub for all flights to Europe.
Qantas will retain its daily Sydney-London and Melbourne-London services on the flagship Airbus A380, so you can still fly the Red Roo all the way – it's just that these flights will break their journey at Dubai instead of Singapore.
(There'll still be Qantas flights to Singapore of course, but those flights will be re-timed for more convenient arrivals instead of as a feeder into the London and Frankfurt services – in effect, treating Singapore as a destination rather than a stop-over.)
However, if you want to go somewhere other than London, Emirates will lay out almost all of the UK at your feet once you transfer at Dubai.
Sixteen daily UK flights from Dubai
Emirates offers an incredible sixteen daily flights to six UK airports, including three airports at London itself.
The combined Qantas-Emirates schedule will boast seven flights into London Heathrow from Dubai every day -- five from Emirates, two from Qantas.
And they're all on the Airbus A380, which means the most comfortable trip for business travellers on fully flat seats.
But with Emirates, you can also catch one of three Boeing 777 flights into Gatwick, London's second airport and just thirty minutes' train ride to the heart of the city.
If you've spent any time in the UK until very recently you'll probably recall Gatwick as a grim 1970s edifice full of sticky children and beet-red Poms off on their holidays, delay-prone and miserable.
However, since Heathrow owner BAA was forced to sell Gatwick off, it's really hit its stride as an alternative to Heathrow -- especially for business travellers heading to the City of London and the revitalised Bankside district (think Melbourne's Docklands) near London Bridge, thanks to direct trains to London Bridge, through London and to Victoria.
Read up on Gatwick's train options via the airport's railway connections page.
Australian Business Traveller toured Gatwick recently and we were very pleasantly surprised to find a modern terminal with priority security lines that actually work (Heathrow, take note!), plush new lounges (especially the Emirates lounge, which is the nicest in the airport) and fantastic gourmet restaurants (including one from Jamie Oliver) if the lounge food doesn't catch your fancy.
Birmingham and beyond
If you're heading for the north side of London, there's a third Emirates option: a double daily service from Dubai to Birmingham, in the heart of the country and at the centre of the UK's rail network.
Comfortable half-hourly trains take 90 minutes into London's Euston station, and some that stop en route to take you directly to your destination if you're heading for the manufacturing heartlands between London and Birmingham.
Also on the Emirates network map is Manchester, where regional airline Flybe's hub stands ready to shuttle you off to the UK's regions.
And speaking of the regions, don't overlook the daily flight into Newcastle, the hub for the northeast of the UK (and especially the UK's offshore resources sector) and the double daily service to Glasgow, the Scottish airport that serves as a hub for the north of Britain.
New lounges at Heathrow
Despite new options to get into the UK, Heathrow will still be the pick of most business travellers, with its five Emirates and two Qantas Airbus A380s -- holding the most comfortable seats on board -- arriving daily.
Qantas passengers will still be heading for Terminal 3, like today.
You'll still be able to use the British Airways Galleries First and Galleries Club lounges even after the Qantas-BA joint venture splits up, using your Qantas Platinum and Gold card, respectively -- so long as you're flying on Qantas, since they're oneworld partners with BA.
But the Qantas-Emirates partnership will also open up the Emirates Lounge to you when flying Qantas or Emirates.
Specific Heathrow lounge access rules have yet to be announced, but it's pretty much a dead cert that you'll be heading in to the luxurious Emirates lounge in T3.
Further reading on the Qantas-Emirates tie-up:
- The Qantas-Emirates alliance overview: what you need to know
- How Emirates' Skywards loyalty program matches up with Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Frequently Asked Questions about the alliance
- Which codeshare flights with Cathay Pacific and Air France will be ending
- Business class compared: how Qantas and Emirates match up
- In first class, would you like swanky or swankier? We measure up Qantas' and Emirates' top offerings.
How will the Qantas-Emirates partnership change your UK-bound business travel? Share your thoughts in a comment below.
For more on the Qantas-Emirates deal and everything the business traveller needs to know, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.