Qantas, Emirates seek to close frequent flyers loophole

Qantas and Emirates are working behind the scenes to close a loophole in their alliance which allows frequent flyers to avoid paying as much as $610 in fuel surcharges on international flights.

Executives from the two airlines have been in ongoing talks about resolving the large discrepancy in their fuel surcharges, and a decision is expected within the next few months.

Fairfax Media revealed recently that resolving the discrepancy between the airlines’ surcharges has been high on the agenda of upcoming talks between their respective management teams.

Travellers wanting to fly economy from Australia to London return have been able to escape paying $610 in fuel surcharges by redeeming their frequent-flyer points on an Emirates flight rather than Qantas. They can also pay $290 less for a return economy with Emirates to an Asian destination.

Emirates president Tim Clark said he did not like discrepancies between the products and charges of partner airlines.

“We must deal with it as we need to deal with it,” he said on Tuesday on the sidelines of a meeting of airlineexecutives in Cape Town.

“I don’t like discrepancies. [Resolving the difference in fuel surcharges]  will take a bit of time and we are still working on it.”

Qantas International chief executive Simon Hickey said the airline was working with Emirates on “an ongoing basis about what we should do in relation to alignment”.

“We don’t need to align at every level but we are talking about what we should and shouldn’t align,” he said.

The airlines would not detail what a likely outcome would be.

The most likely resolution would be for Qantas to lower its surcharges to better match Emirates . But that would mean Qantas would take a hit to its revenue. Conversely, an increase in charges by Emirates is likely to spark a consumer backlash from consumers.

The reporter travelled to Cape Town courtesy of the International Air Transport Association.

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