Qantas, Emirates partnership launches with incredible Sydney flyover
Forget the Easter bunny.
The official kickoff of the new "kangaroo route" was marked by an impressive tandem flight. Two A380 superjumbos -- one from each airline -- took off from Sydney Airport for a stunning flyover across two of Sydney's most photographed icons, the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
The flyover is believed to be the first time anywhere in the world in which two commercial airline A380's have flown in formation.
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The passenger jets cruised over the Sydney landmarks at an altitude of 1,500 feet at approximately 10:30 a.m. Qantas Chief Pilot Captain Philip Green said the airlines worked together extremely closely prior to the flight.
“There has been a huge amount of planning which has been necessary to make this possible including seeking approval from safety regulators in both Australia and the United Arab Emirates," he said.
“Pilots from both airlines have conducted dozens of special simulator training sessions since January this year. Emirates pilots came to Australia earlier this month to conduct joint sessions in Qantas’ A380 simulator in Sydney and conducted several more practice runs over the past few days.”
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What does it mean for travelers?
Though it was the flyover that caught the world's attention, the Qantas/Emirates alliance is likely to be an attractive proposition for Aussies looking to hit Europe.
Australia's competition watchdog approved the partnership on March 27. It allows the two carriers to combine operations for an initial period of five years, including the coordination of schedules, ticket prices and networks.
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It also marks a return to a Middle East stopover for the daily "kangaroo route" (Sydney-Dubai-London and Melbourne-Dubai-London) following a 30-year absence while it operated via Singapore.
“From today, our customers from Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney have one-stop access to 65 destinations in the Middle East, North Africa, the UK and Europe via the joint Qantas and Emirates network," Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce said in a statement.
“By traveling through Dubai, Qantas customers can connect to the extensive Emirates network into Europe and the UK and fly directly to their destination."
Joyce says the new network will cut average journey times by more than two hours from Melbourne and Sydney to the top 10 destinations in Europe.
Combined, the two airlines will offer 98 flights a week between Australia and Dubai. Qantas will continue to operate its A380 services from Sydney and Melbourne through to London.
This means that Qantas customers flying through Dubai will travel through Dubai International Airport's all-A380 terminal, the only airline to join Emirates there.
More on CNN: First look at Dubai's new A380 concourse
The new partnership benefits its frequent flyers in particular, with the airlines offering reciprocal access to tier status benefits, including end-to-end recognition of customers, lounge access and priority check-in and boarding.
The partnership also carries over to baggage policies, meaning an increase in allowance for Qantas’ economy checked baggage from 23 kilograms to 30 kilograms.
Qantas says over 210,000 sectors have already been booked on the joint network, with the airline seeing a six-fold increase in bookings to Europe in the first nine weeks of sales compared to the same period last year.
Are you a regular on the kangaroo route? Will you prefer flying through Dubai instead of Singapore? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.