British Airways has informed Australian flag carrier, Qantas, that it would not reinstate its code-share agreement for connecting flights between Asia and London when their decades-long partnership officially ends on March 31, reports said.
The move is the result of Qantas' decision to enter into code-sharing agreements with Middle Easter carrier, Emirates, in a bid to boost its declining international operations.
The Australian Financial Review reports that while commercial discussions between the two long-time partners are still ongoing, BA would no longer likely continue to place its BA code on Qantas services from Asia to Australia as BA's way of retaliating for the flying roo's higher preference for Emirates.
BA's decision would go against a Qantas assurance to ticket holders as recent as December 2012 that flyers who prefer to fly from Australia to London through Singapore or Hong Kong could do so under their soon-to-expire code-sharing deal.
While analysts estimate the value of the Qantas-BA code-share agreement at $100 million a year, industry observers said the financially hemorrhaging air carrier stands to gain more financial benefits from its corporate marriage to Emirates.
Qantas insisted that passengers could still use Qantas to Singapore, Bangkok or Hong Kong and ride BA en route to London under the oneworld banner since both BA and Qantas are founders of the oneworld alliance. A BA spokesman admitted BA is transitioning its relationship with Qantas but denied the carrier is cancelling all of its codeshares with the latter.
Echoing Australia's Asian Century policy, Qantas said it is providing stronger links to main Asian hubs using its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners which would include Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Mumbai, Delhi and Tokyo.
While Qantas would provide better connections beginning March 31 to an additional 35 Asian routes, it would cut service on the Perth-Singapore route from twice to once a day and close its Adelaide-Singapore and Perth-Hong Kong legs on Apr 14 and March 31, respectively.
"The number of dedicated seats on Qantas services to Hong Kong and Singapore is increasing significantly, because capacity previously set aside from customers going to Europe via these hubs can be freed up . . . The joint Qantas-Emirates network to Asia gives our customers a fresh set of options," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Qantas International Chief Executive Simon Hickey.