Australia's competition watchdog has given the thumbs up to the Qantas joint venture with Emirates on routes between Europe and Australia.
The alliance will see Qantas shift its hub for European flights to Dubai from Singapore after it dropped a long standing partnership with British Airways on the ‘kangaroo route’.
The partnership with Emirates, which was agreed last year, will see the two carriers collaborate on pricing, sales and flight scheduling.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it thought the benefits of the alliance outweighed the drawbacks.
Chairman Rod Sims said: "The ACCC considers that the alliance is likely to result in public benefits through enhanced products and service offerings by the airlines, and improved operating efficiency."
But approval was limited to five years, half the time the airlines had originally bid for. The green light was conditional on the two carriers maintaining their pre-alliance capacity on routes between Australia and New Zealand amid concerns about reduced competition.
Emirates president Tim Clark hailed the deal as “game-changing”.
He said: "Dubai is a leading global hub and through it, our two airlines will connect Australia to Europe, the UK and Northern Africa more smoothly than ever before."
The Emirates alliance is seen as key to attempts by Qantas to turn around its loss-making international operations.
Chief executive Alan Joyce said: "Qantas is an Australian icon and the future of its international business is much brighter with this partnership.
"Customers are already responding very strongly to the joint network that Qantas and Emirates have built, and to the frequent flyer benefits that extend across it, with a significant increase in bookings."
Update: a story posted on travelweekly.co.uk yesterday (March 26) reported Emirates UK vice-president Laurie Berryman was targeting one million passengers from the UK in the next two years. We would like to clarify that the target related to customers travelling from four regional airports - Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgwow - and not all UK airports.
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