Consent for Emirates, Qantas pact

19:45, Jan 20 2013

Australia's competition watchdog has given interim approval for an alliance between Qantas and Emirates airlines but has prohibited them from extending it to trans-Tasman routes because it may push airfares up.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the interim authorisation allowed the airlines to carry out preparatory work before a final decision on authorisation was given in coming months.

The proposed alliance is due to begin in April. It would include collaboration on joint sales and pricing strategy, joint marketing, system integration and testing, customer handling, and scheduling and capacity co-ordination.

The commission determined the public benefits were likely to outweigh the public detriment in a loss of competition.

However, the watchdog has excluded flights between Australia and New Zealand from the alliance because the pair's only major competition on that route is from Air New Zealand.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the trans-Tasman decision reflected that New Zealand law did not provide for interim authorisation.