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Qantas expects Dubai to retain European hub role

Qantas expects to continue using Dubai and its Emirates alliance to connect passengers through to European destinations, even as it looks to launch more nonstop services between Australia and Europe.

The Oneworld carrier will commence a Melbourne-Perth-London Heathrow service from 24 March 2018 with Boeing 787-9s. At the same time it will cut its daily Melbourne-Dubai-London Heathrow services, which are operated by Airbus A380s.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the IATA annual general meeting, chief executive Alan Joyce reiterated that the carrier is still in talks with Boeing and Airbus with a view to ordering 777Xs or A350-900ULRs to facilitate the launch of nonstop Sydney-London services.

Nonetheless, even with more nonstops between Australia and Europe on the cards, Joyce says that the Dubai hub will remain an important part of its network.

"Even when we start flying direct Sydney to London, I think Dubai will still play a big role because Emirates still has 40 destinations in Europe," he says.

Joyce adds that the one-stop market is still expected to take the bulk of traffic heading to Europe, while the nonstop services will be more niche.

As well as Europe, the airline is also looking at using longer-range aircraft to open up new services to Chicago, connecting into American Airlines' hub there. Nonstop services to New York and Boston are also under consideration.

Qantas has previously indicated that it may use its 787-9s to fly from Melbourne and Brisbane to Dallas. Qantas international chief executive Gareth Evans is hopeful that the success of the nonstop Perth-London service could also see it open up nonstop from the Western Australian capital to Frankfurt and Rome in future.

That would require Qantas to exercise more of its options above the eight 787s that it presently has on order. Evans says that the earliest it would need to make a call on those additional orders would be early in 2018, however the airline has flexibility built into its options stream to push that out further.

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