Qantas/China Eastern partnership given green light

A new partnership between Qantas and China Eastern Airlines has been approved by the ACCC. The joint venture means that Qantas’ relationship with China Eastern will be akin to the much-touted partnership with Emirates. Qantas and China Eastern flyers will receive reciprocal benefits when flying on either airline including lounge access, other status privileges such as priority check-in and frequent flyer points.

As part of the new agreement between the two airlines, China Eastern will commence flights between Brisbane and Shanghai from January. The new flights will initially operate three times per week. As with all of China Eastern’s flights between Australia and China, Qantas will codeshare on the service.

Qantas customers can earn Qantas points and status credits on all China Eastern flights where the Qantas codeshare is booked, i.e. the flight is booked under a “QF” flight number. Qantas points can also be earned on China Eastern flights with an “MU” flight number, however these flights are not eligible to earn status credits. Meanwhile, Qantas Frequent Flyers can continue to use their points to book travel on China Eastern.

While new routes and airline partnerships are generally welcomed by travellers, some members express concern at the difference in service quality provided by the two airlines. Many Australian flyers consider Qantas to offer a superior service, and some members wonder if Qantas flyers may be disappointed if they end up on a China Eastern flight after booking with Qantas.

In my opinion, the two airlines are significantly different in terms of quality. I wonder what the joint venture will look like

Another member writes…

My wife recently flew with [China Eastern] and nominates the return flight to Sydney as her worst ever. This from someone who has flown Tiger, Ryanair, and lots of discount economy flights to the UK. To add insult to injury the flight was in a non-earning class!

Qantas is likely to relocate its Shanghai operations to the China Eastern terminal, where a lounge would also be shared by the two airlines. It is not yet clear whether this would lead to an improvement – or otherwise – in service levels.

The joint venture was approved by the ACCC on a number of strict conditions. Fares between Sydney and Shanghai will be closely monitored, while there is also a requirement that capacity to Shanghai is increased over the next five years. This may involve more new flights in the future, with Perth-Shanghai one possible route under consideration.

Qantas will also begin a joint-venture with American Airlines on flights to the USA in December. As part of the agreement, Qantas will commence flights to San Francisco while American operates their own flights to Sydney.

Join the discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]