Qantas does not offer any flights to Malaysia Airlines’s hub in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Joe Armao
Qantas Airways has no plans to deepen its relationship with fellow oneworld member Malaysia Airlines despite the struggling south-east Asian carrier having last week signed a comprehensive codesharing agreement with key Qantas partner Emirates.
As part of the codeshare deal with Emirates, Malaysia Airlines said it will axe flights between its Kuala Lumpur hub and Paris and Amsterdam, leaving London as its only non-stop European destination. It will direct customers looking to travel to other European ports to do so via Dubai.
In return, Emirates will offer its customers codeshares on Malaysia Airlines flights beyond Kuala Lumpur to other destinations throughout Asia. Emirates has four daily flights between Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, including one that travels on to Melbourne and is part of its alliance with Qantas.
The deal creates a strong relationship between Malaysia Airlines and Emirates, although at this stage it does not include revenue sharing like the Qantas/Emirates alliance.
CAPA Centre for Aviation said Malaysia Airlines might consider a partnership with Qantas now that the Emirates deal has been agreed.
Earlier in the decade Qantas had sponsored Malaysia Airlines into the oneworld alliance at a time when the pair had talked about setting up a premium Asian joint venture with a hub in Kuala Lumpur. However, those talks dissolved and Qantas instead chose to pursue its partnership with Emirates. Qantas does not offer any flights from Australia to Kuala Lumpur.
“We are always looking at opportunities with our codeshare partners, but there are no immediate plans to change our current relationship with Malaysia Airlines or fly into Kuala Lumpur at this stage,” a Qantas spokesman said on Monday.
Qantas has instead been focused on Singapore and Hong Kong as its key Asian destinations and on offering onward connections through Jetstar’s Asian arms. Emirates is a codeshare partner on many of the Jetstar Asia flights from Singapore, most recently on the new link between Singapore and Da Nang in Vietnam.
CAPA said the Jetstar Asia codeshare had allowed Emirates to add capacity into Singapore that would otherwise not be sustainable. Emirates also has a partnership with Bangkok Airways for onward connections from Bangkok.
As a result of the Malaysia Airlines deal, CAPA said passengers that Emirates now flows through Bangkok or Singapore could now be directed through Kuala Lumpur, but there would also be opportunities for overall growth for the Dubai-based carrier in the south-east Asian market.
Malaysia Airlines and Emirates remain in discussions as to whether Australia and New Zealand will be part of their codesharing agreement.
“The specific destinations and routes covered under the codeshare agreement are still being determined,” a Malaysia Airlines spokesman said, adding the intent was for both parties to leverage their broader networks, which included Australia and New Zealand.
Malaysia Airlines’s decision to abandon its own flights to Paris and Amsterdam and instead rely on Emirates for European connections other than London could make it less attractive to Australian passengers because journeys will now require an extra stop in Dubai. For now, Malaysia Airlines will codeshare with KLM on Kuala Lumpur-Amsterdam flights but the pair are in discussions about whether that will continue after the Emirates deal is completed.
In October, Malaysia Airlines chief executive Christoph Mueller, who is trying to help the airline recover after the twin disasters of MH370 and MH17 last year, said it no longer made sense for the carrier to attempt to be a major player on the Kangaroo route.
“It is firmly in the hands of Middle East carriers,” he said of flights between Australia and Europe. “But also we recognise China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, India, are growing and that is where we will focus. We going from a northwest/southeast focus more to a north/south.”