Qantas: Emirates stages dramatic cameo appearance
And it wouldn’t have caused much rejoicing at Virgin Australia, no pun intended.
Just as Qantas is larger than Virgin Australia, Emirates is larger, way larger, than Etihad.
And with Virgin Australia in a commercial alliance with Etihad, which may be smaller than Emirates, but appears far less exposed to debt, if exposed at all, than its larger, flashier neighbor up the road in Dubai, there is a certain tension between the two rival UAE carriers that couldn’t fail to be acutely well understood in both Qantas and Virgin Australia.
If Alan Joyce at Qantas wants to bury John Borghetti at Virgin Australia for making him look tragic when it comes to staff engagement and customer focus, a deal with Emirates would appear to offer ‘certainty’ as well as some hope of making serious money for the Qantas management and its investors.
It just means ending the current Qantas fixation with a late 80s mindset when it comes to the sort of alliances it has with British Airways, which is terribly London centric, or American, which may not be safe to mention within Qantas while the once great US carrier struggles to find the way forward from an ugly bankruptcy.
When Borghetti was at Qantas, and had lost out to Joyce as a replacement for Geoff Dixon as CEO in 2008, he had been rebuffed in his argument that a strong alliance with Etihad over its Abu Dhabi hub would be a potent answer to Emirates’ success with world hub Dubai.
Having just flown to Toulouse via Dubai and Paris, it is fair to say Abu Dhabi would be an even more potent answer this week. Dubai is like an up market overflowing refugee camp after a few years frenetic growth since last visit, and that is as true inside the gigantic Emirates premier lounge city complex, as it is on the outside with thousands of other passengers sleeping and eating rough in an airport the Dubai authorities have, as Emirates president Tim Clark has said on several occasions, been way too slow to augment with a new airport.
Dubai is what Sydney will be like in several more years of unaddressed growth, but that is to stray off topic. (I would really like my interlined luggage to turn up immediately in TLS so I don’t have to sit around in the buff waiting for the one set of clothes to dry in the hotel bathroom.)
An Emirates link up with Qantas could open, one hopes in a meaningfully smart deal, the doorway on the fabulous market potentials of most of Africa, all of Asia, all of eastern Europe, and the secondary, not-in-Paris, not-in-Frankfurt, not-in-god forsaken London Heathrow markets that are in their scope far more lucrative than those major, congested city airports.
An Emirates link with Qantas would see the perpetually complaining Australian carrier forced to concede the merits of large scale use of the Boeing 777, as well as the A380, for both of which Emirates is by far the largest user on the planet. The A380 hoovers up hundreds more passengers per flight into the Emirates fold from those carriers that do not offer what is the most comfortable jet in any class in the sky while 777s and for that matter A330s give it in their class the most fuel efficient range/payload combinations for routes which it intends growing to into A380 routes.
In short an Emirates link with Qantas would end a lot of sub standard management practices and sacred cow beliefs at Qantas if in fact it was structured in a way that saw it influential in how Qantas conducts its operations.
Then again, the rivalries and economic dynamics of the UAE could do what outsiders might see as astonishing things to the relationships between its big and little flag carriers as well. And Dubai is already playing a low cost but high service standard card with its all 737-800 Flydubai operation. This isn’t a part of the world where airline investments stay stuck in any sort of rut for very long.
Thus an Emirates/Qantas alliance could be incredibly valuable to Qantas, and exceedingly challenging to Virgin Australia.
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