Australian competition watchdog blocks Qantas-Japan Airlines deal

Japan Times -- Sep 14
Australia’s competition regulator on Monday denied approval for an agreement between Qantas Airways Ltd. and Japan Airlines Co. to coordinate flights between Australia and Japan, saying it would reduce competition when coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted and international travel resumes.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in a statement that the proposed agreement would not only remove competition between the two top competitors but also make it difficult for other airlines to operate routes between Australia and Japan.

“Preserving competition between airlines is the key to the long-term recovery of the aviation and tourism sectors, once international travel restrictions are eased,” said Rod Sims, chair of the ACCC.

Qantas and JAL together flew some 85% of passengers traveling between Australia and Japan in 2019, the ACCC said.

In response to the decision, Qantas and JAL expressed their disappointment in a joint statement, saying the agreement would have boosted the recovery of the tourism sector once international borders reopened.

Currently, Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. is the only other carrier offering direct flights between Australia and Japan.