British Airways/Cathay Pacific codeshare scenarios
While the British Airways code share deal with Cathay Pacific on Australian routes from 31 March makes the clearest of commonsense for both airlines, it is the longer term consequences that will cause interest within Qantas-Emirates and Virgin Australia-Etihad-Singapore Airlines.
First up, it will make life harder for Virgin Atlantic’s onward services from Hong Kong to Sydney in the UK originating market.
And it would seem to make it unlikely that Virgin Australia might find a quality Hong Kong partner in Cathay Pacific for those connections into China and northern Asia that might be more attractive to travellers than connections over Changi with Singapore Airlines.
It also draws attention to the need for a strong domestic Australian partner for British Airways and Cathay Pacific if the view is taken that commercial relations between both of those oneworld carriers and Qantas have cooled to sub-zero because of the impending Qantas-Emirates partnership, not to mention the irritation Cathay Pacific has expressed in various places with Jetstar Hong Kong.
This is another way of saying that oneworld relations between Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific have definitely not been improved by the Qantas-Emirates deal.
The BA/CX codeshare add to doubts as to whether Qantas really needs oneworld when it has such a comprehensive deal with Emirates and such a potent business partnership with American Airlines that far exceeds the benefits QF and AA get by being in oneworld anyhow.
It is worth noting that with recent improvements to the airport experience at any fare level in Dubai and Hong Kong and the always impressive Singapore Airport experience, those who are uncommitted to a particular airline brand have been given new reasons to consider such things as ease and speed of connections at each hub.
Dubai has been getting flak in the consumer media for the claimed horrors of 10 hour connections between Qantas flights and onward Emirates flights when the deal between both carriers takes effect from 31 March. But, to the extent that there is a problem, there is no reason to doubt Qantas and Emirates will move to fix them before they give away too much custom to airlines offering Changi and Hong Kong connections.
What BA/CX does is add pressure to QF/EK to fix such things as much for Europe originating as Australia originating travellers. It also adds to pressure on Virgin Australia to think beyond Singapore in finding competitive connections throughout Asia as well as for those who want to fly to Europe from some parts of Asia. And it surely must make Virgin Atlantic ask itself what it really expects to get from a single daily flight between Sydney and London via Hong Kong considering the far more frequent and flexible alternatives that are now being offered on the kangaroo routes.