Emirates, Qantas networks tied from Jan 31

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Qantas (L) and Emirates (R) aircraft are pictured on the tarmac of Sydney Airport (AFP/Getty Images).

Qantas (L) and Emirates (R) aircraft are pictured on the tarmac of Sydney Airport (AFP/Getty Images).

Emirates Airline’s customers will be able to access bookings across Qantas Airways' flight network from March 31 as part of a partnership between the two airlines announced in September 2012, the Dubai carrier announced.

Australia's struggling Qantas last year dropped its alliance with British Airways as part of a ten-year partnership with Emirates, a move which will see the Sydney-based airline direct its European traffic through Dubai instead of Singapore.

While the partnership was granted interim authorisation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on January 17 and a final decision is expected in March, customers will be able to book flights from 32 Australian destinations offered by Qantas from the end of this month.

From March 31, Emirates’ Skywards members will also be able to earn Skywards Miles on Qantas international flights and domestic flights, the Emirates statement confirmed.

“With 12 daily flights between Dubai and five Australian cities, Australia is a very strong market for Emirates and our customers are looking forward to taking advantage of the benefits the Emirates and Qantas partnership has to offer,” said Thierry Antinori, Emirates’ executive vice president of passenger sales worldwide.

In a January statement, the ACCC said it may review its decision on interim authorisation at any time and it should not be taken to be indicative of whether or not final authorisation will be granted.

As part of the partnership proposals, Qantas will replace Singapore with Dubai as its hub for European flights from March 2013 and coordinate pricing, sales and schedules with Emirates.

"A key objective is to make Qantas International strong and viable, and bring it back to profitability," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told reporters in September 2012. "This partnership will help us do that."

Joyce said the airline remained committed to reaching break-even in its international business in the 2015 financial year.

He declined to comment on analysts' estimates that the alliance would save Qantas AUD$90m to AUD$100m before taxes annually, or provide the airline's own forecasts for cost savings.

The deal will enable Qantas to cut loss-making international routes and focus on its profitable domestic and budget operations, while helping Emirates compete against its main state-backed Abu Dhabi rivals Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

The alliance is deeper than a straightforward code-share arrangement - where airlines share some flights - but stops short of a global revenue-sharing deal or equity injection from either side.

The Australian airline has been stripping costs out of its business after a year troubled by a record fuel bill, rising competition and a labour union that has opposed the carrier's spending cuts.

Emirates, meanwhile, is looking to increase its business in Australia to counter moves by Etihad and Qatar.

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