Emirates applies to end flights between Singapore and Brisbane; competition watchdog CCCS reviewing

Emirates cited substantial losses on the route for its decision. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - Dubai airlines Emirates has applied to stop all its flight services between Singapore and Brisbane, citing substantial losses on this route for its decision.

This would result in a 16 per cent drop - or at least 4,956 seats per week - in the total number of seats on the route, said the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) on Friday (Sept 13).

CCCS is seeking feedback to assess the impact of Emirates' withdrawal from the route on air passenger services and air freight services.

After the public consultation is completed, the commission will determine whether Emirates' request should be allowed to proceed.

Three airlines currently ply the route between Singapore and Brisbane: Emirates and Australia's national carrier Qantas each operates one daily flight, while Singapore Airlines operates four every day.

The upshot could affect the current alliance between Emirates and Qantas that allows them to coordinate aspects of their flight services such as pricing, scheduling and marketing. CCCS had approved their partnership in 2013 only after they voluntarily undertook to increase seating capacity on flights from Singapore to Brisbane and Singapore to Melbourne.

Emirates' decision to withdraw from its Singapore-Brisbane commitments changes the premise on which CCCS had approved of their collaboration.

CCCS said Qantas' commitment to supply at least 3,290 weekly seats on the Singapore-Brisbane route will continue to apply, regardless of the outcome of Emirates' application.

Replying to queries from ST, Emirates said that until approvals are obtained for the suspension of its flights EK432 and EK433 for the route, they will continue to operate as scheduled.

Flights EK5051 and EK5052, operated by Emirates' codeshare partner Qantas on the same route, will not be affected.

"The intent to suspend flights is based solely upon careful and comprehensive consideration of the commercial viability of the route. More information will be provided upon in due course," said an Emirates spokesman.

Noting that Singapore and Australia are important business and leisure destinations for Emirates, she added that the airline remains "committed to serving our customers in Singapore" with three daily flights to Melbourne, operated by the airline and its codeshare partner Qantas.

When contacted, Singapore Airlines said it was not able to comment on its competitors' actions.

The public consultation will start on Friday and end on Sept 24, and will consider issues including how Emirates' withdrawal could affect ticket prices and seat availability between Singapore and Australia, and whether another airline might consider entering the route, among other things.

Those who wish to submit feedback to CCCS can e-mail CCCS_Feedback@cccs.gov.sg by 3pm on Sept 24.

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