An Australian senator has called for the country's competition watchdog to review its investigation into the proposed alliance between Qantas and Emirates, or face judicial review that could delay the alliance's implementation.
In December 2012, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a draft determination proposing to authorise the alliance between the carriers. This would allow the carriers cooperate extensively on services between Australia and Europe from 1 April, and Qantas will move its hub for European services from Singapore to Dubai.
In an opinion piece written for an Australian newspaper on 14 January, Senator Nick Xenophon says that the ACCC should have probed further into claims by Qantas that its international division has been in decline.
He adds that Qantas International's financial position may have been exaggerated through cost shifting between various entities, and that the ACCC should engage forensic accountants to probe the claims more thoroughly.
If the ACCC does not look further into the matter, it could "lead to an application for judicial review", says Xenophon.
A review would likely delay the planned implementation of the partnership.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims has since defended the regulator's investigation into the proposed alliance, saying that a draft approval was given because it found that the alliance could bring net benefit to the public. It would only have considered Qantas's financial position if there was a threat of the airline discontinuing its European services should the alliance be disapproved.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has repeatedly cited losses at Qantas International as a major challenge for the airline. For the year ended 30 June 2012, the international operations lost A$450 million ($475 million), which drove the Qantas group into its first loss since its privatisation in 1995.