Qantas launches new Auck-Perth service

QANTAS will start a new Auckland-Perth service this summer and has launched a new transtasman schedule as its partnership with Emirates takes off.

Although the new flight to Perth service will operate only twice-weekly and be limited to December and January, it will provide competition to Air New Zealand which has had direct non-stop daily links between the two cities to itself.

Qantas will use an Airbus A330 between Auckland and Perth from December 6 to February 1 next year, the first time the Australian airline has flown the route directly.

As part of regulatory approval for the Qantas-Emirates deal, the airlines were required to maintain existing capacity across the Tasman.

A Qantas spokeswoman said that with the new Perth service there will be more transtasman seats and the airline says its partnership with Emirates has allowed it to change some of its flight times to provide better connections for New Zealand travellers.

Qantas uses narrow body Boeing 737-800s on other Tasman routes and many of these are being rescheduled to avoid arriving or departing around the same times as Emirates' four widebody services to Auckland and Christchurch.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the Auckland-Perth service will cater for demand over the busy holiday season and our new transtasman schedule offered better flight times and more connections to flights both in Australia and around the world.

The joint Qantas and Emirates network now open for bookings and will give New Zealanders access to aligned fares, codeshare services and frequent flyer benefits. Economy passengers will now get a harmonised luggage allowance of 30kg across both airlines.

The schedule offers around 130 services per week from Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown across the Tasman to a joint network covering more than 175 destinations in Australia, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, the UK and Europe.

Emirates president Tim Clark said advantages for customers would continue to increase as the relationship grew.

"We can expect to see benefits for the tourism industry as well, and that has got to be good news all round. Through the partnership, the Emirates network has now been opened up to include Queenstown and Wellington in New Zealand in addition to the 55 destinations in Australia already on offer to our customers," said Clark.

Western Australia's mineral boom and the large number of Kiwis with strong New Zealand ties were a big part of Air NZ's decision to increase capacity there last year from Auckland and for five months this summer it will operated twice weekly flights from Christchurch.

Qantas and Emirates entered into a global alliance in April following several years of deep losses suffered by the Australian airline's long haul operation, partly as a result of fierce competition from the Dubai-based carrier.

Qantas customers with existing bookings for travel from October 27 who are affected by the changes will be contacted by Qantas or their travel agent and re-accommodated.