Historic break with Qantas 'perfectly sensible': BA chief

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Qantas’s decision to end its almost 15-year partnership with British Airways in favour of a tie-up with Emirates was "perfectly sensible" given the Australian carrier’s European ambitions, says BA chief Keith Williams.

Speaking at the European Aviation Club on 21 November, Williams said the long-standing relationship between BA and Qantas was a "good example of a partnership that was right" at the time it operated, but that it was "similarly right" for that to end once both carriers' strategic needs changed.

"It was a perfectly sensible move for Qantas, they wanted access to Europe, and in my mind BA gave them predominantly access to the UK. Equally, from the BA perspective, over time we wanted partnerships with Asia. Qantas really only offered Australia,” he says.

Williams says BA’s Sydney operation continues to perform well with the "right-sized business" and the "right product" for the route: "If you look at the route, we still continue to fly from London to Sydney and over the last three quarters we actually increased profitability by £39 million [$63 million], a significant increase, and that’s without the benefit of Qantas."

On the potential opportunities offered by Qatar’s joining Oneworld for BA’s long-haul Asian network, Williams says the relationship is "still in its infancy" and "we will have to see how things develop over time".