Qantas cements alliance with former foe Emirates

QANTAS has overhauled its international network in a landmark alliance with one of its fiercest rivals, Middle Eastern airline Emirates.

Under the deal, Qantas will switch its two daily Australia-London flights from a stopover at a base in Singapore, to one flight through a new hub in Dubai to Heathrow Airport.

It will mean Qantas' 8.6 million Frequent Flyer members will be able to ''earn and burn'' points on Emirates' 70-plus destinations. The airline is still working on the details of the alignment of the two loyalty programs and is yet to decide whether status credits on the loyalty schemes will be included.

The agreement is aimed at stemming multimillion-dollar losses on routes to Europe by further reducing the global reach of Qantas.

In the wake of a record annual loss announced last month, Qantas will ditch its own 747 jumbo services between Singapore and Frankfurt, Germany - its last remaining destination in continental Europe.

The agreement with Emirates includes co-ordination on pricing, sales and flight schedules, and will need approval from the consumer watchdog.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the deal would help return its international operations to profitability within the next three years.