Qantas and Emirates have formally launched their global partnership with a flyover of two A380s over Sydney Harbour Bridge bridge and Opera House.
The alliance, which received Australian competition approval last week, sees Qantas move its international hub from Singapore to Emirates' home airport of Dubai.
A condition of the regulatory approval is that flights across the Tasman are maintained at present levels - to make sure prices do not get pushed up for flights to and from New Zealand.
Emirates president Tim Clark, in Sydney for the launch and the inaugural flight from Sydney to London via Dubai, played down cultural concerns about acceptable behaviour in the UAE city.
"Dubai makes it absolutely clear that they are all welcome," he said, answering a question about the treatment of de facto couple or homosexual couples, neither of which are allowed to stay overnight as couples. Public displays of affection are also not allowed.
After initially saying the question was "not necessarily easily answered", Clark said 60 million people passed through Dubai airport last year and that he did not "know of one instance of where people have been discriminated against".
Qantas boss Alan Joyce turned his attention to the struggling financials of the listed airline, repeating forecasts that the Emirates deal would help return Qantas' international business to profitability in its 2015 financial year.
"It's still early days but the response from our stakeholders (customers, shareholders and employees) is good."
The partnership will operate 98 flights a week between Australia and Dubai. It is also expected to boost Australian tourism - with a flow on likely for New Zealand - with a global marketing campaign being developed to promote Qantas destinations that are now part of the extended Emirates network.
Passengers on both airlines will be able to book just one ticket that may include code share flights. Air miles would also be interchangeable and Qantas economy baggage allowance rises from 20 to 30kg to match Emirates' offering.
Joyce said it would also cut travel time to many parts of Europe as passengers will no longer have to fly to London and double back.
* Ellen Read flew to Sydney and Dubai courtesy of Qantas.
- © Fairfax NZ News