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Qantas fears losing business on 'kangaroo route'

Qantas has applied for an extension of a joint venture with British Airways, fearing Middle Eastern airlines could encroach on its share of business travel on the ‘kangaroo route’ between Australia and the UK.

Under the JV (last approved in 2005), the two airlines agree on flights, departure times and aircraft flown on the route.

In an application to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Qantas said British Airways would contemplate cutting services to Australia if it did not approve the deal, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Qantas said in the application Etihad, Qatar Airways and Emirates would increase flights and take 50% of first and business travel by 2012.

While Qatar Airlines is launching Europe to Melbourne flights in December, along with daily flights from Sydney next year, British Airways and Qantas have shed services, the SMH said.

The Middle Eastern airlines had bucked the trend during the downturn.

The Australian commission is expected to make a decision by March.