Emirates Airline plans to introduce a fourth Airbus A380 on its Australia and New Zealand network from October, as it boosts services in the region following the final government approvals of its partnership with Qantas.
The Middle East carrier will switch its Dubai-Brisbane-Auckland flight from Boeing 777-300ERs to A380s. This is one of Emirates’ two daily services to Brisbane. Qantas and Emirates will offer a combined six daily A380 flights between Australia and Dubai after October.
The upgrade on the Brisbane-Auckland leg is particularly notable. The move comes just a day after the New Zealand government gave its approval for the Qantas-Emirates partnership; Australian regulators had already granted approval.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Transport echoed the conditions that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) placed on the partnership proposal. The ACCC was concerned that the two carriers might cut capacity on routes between Australia and New Zealand, so it required that they maintain at least the same capacity on the four routes where they had overlapping service.
Brisbane-Auckland is one of those routes, and the others are Sydney-Auckland, Melbourne-Auckland and Sydney-Christchurch. Brisbane-Auckland—the route Emirates is adding capacity on—currently is the only one of the four where Qantas and Emirates do not have the largest combined capacity share. The pair accounted for 43% of capacity on this route in 2012, compared to 49% for the Virgin Australia-Air New Zealand partnership.
By operating the A380 instead of the 777-300, Emirates says it will add another 132 seats on each flight. According to the ACCC, Emirates and Qantas in their application argued that there is significant surplus capacity on Australia-New Zealand routes.