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Virgin Australia seeks more details on Qantas-Cathay codeshare

Virgin Australia has warned that granting Qantas and Cathay Pacific codeshare rights on services between Australia and Hong Kong will lead to the two dominant carriers on the route expanding their market power, and is seeking more details on the proposal.

The carrier set out the warning in a submission to Australia’s International Air Services Commission, which is taking comments on Qantas’s request for a variation to allow it and Cathay to codeshare on each other’s services.

“On its face, Virgin Australia objects to the application,” it states in its response. “If Qantas provides further information in support of its application, Virgin Australia would appreciate the opportunity to lodge a substantive submission with the commission in response.”

It notes that the public version of the application did not provide details on which city-pairs will be served, nor the nature of the codeshare arrangement. That makes it difficult for Virgin and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to “properly assess and comment on the potential impact” of the proposed codeshare.

The details sought by Virgin are likely part of the confidential submission that Qantas made with its application that was lodged on 8 January.

Virgin is the only other carrier flying between Australia and Hong Kong since its alliance partner Hong Kong Airlines withdrew its flights to Cairns and the Gold Coast in October.

FlightGlobal schedules data shows that for January 2019, Cathay is the dominant carrier between the two nations, with a 64% share of seats, followed by Qantas with 25%, while Virgin holds the remainder.

Qantas already codeshares on Cathay flights from Perth and Cairns to Hong Kong, which it does not operate on in its own right.

That was part of a larger codeshare tie-up between the two carriers announced in September, mostly covering connections within Australia, and beyond Hong Kong to Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka.

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