Interim take off for Qantas and Emirates
The ACCC has today granted conditional interim authorisation to Qantas and Emirates for their proposed alliance. The interim authorisation allows the two airlines to commence planning and undertake preliminary steps to prepare for the proposed implementation of the alliance in April 2013 if final authorisation is granted.
As outlined in our previous post, the ACCC’s draft determination issued shortly before Christmas, proposed granting final authorisation subject to a condition that the airlines do not cooperate in relation to services on the trans-Tasman routes. In a similar vein, the interim authorisation granted today allows the airlines to start preparatory work for implementation of the alliance with the exception of preparatory conduct relating to services between Australia and New Zealand.
What the interim authorisation means is that the airlines can now undertake preliminary steps in relation to joint sales and pricing strategies, joint marketing initiatives, consider system integration issues and testing procedures, consider customer handling issues, as well as undertake planning in relation to scheduling and capacity coordination.
The ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, stated that the long lead times required to market and sell tickets prior to commencement of long-haul services was a consideration for the ACCC granting the interim authorisation. In addition, the ACCC has accepted written assurances from the airlines that passengers’ bookings will be accommodated even if the ACCC does not ultimately grant final authorisation for the alliance.
The ACCC is currently arranging a pre-decision conference for purposes of obtaining feedback and submissions in response to the draft determination and the parties’ applications. As indicated in our previous post, the ACCC is expected to make its final decision in March 2013.