Emirates + Qantas

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 31 March 2013

It has been described as a game changing deal in the aviation world. As Qantas Airways’ 17-year revenue sharing agreement ends with British Airways, a new chapter begins right here in Dubai.

Noni Edwards has the story.

High in the skies over Sydney,  a Qantas A380 pilot talks to his Emirates colleague as they stage a daring double flyover.
It’s symbolic of the spirit of cooperation between the two airlines, that’s being celebrated today is thought to be the first time anywhere in the world that two commercial A380s have been flown in formation.

Emirates’ president Tim Clark was overwhelmed by the occasion, “It made me immensely proud and convinced me that what we have done is absolutely the right thing for both Qantas and Emirates.”

There was no mistaking just how big a deal this is for the Australian carrier either.
“This is one of the most important days in Qantas’ 92 years history, said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, “Our partnership with Emirates is probably the biggest partnership deal that Qantas will ever do. It’s certainly one of the most important strategic initiatives that we’ll ever do.”

Analysts have suggested the alliance could save the Australian airline up to A$ 100 million a year. Qantas has already reported a six-fold increase in bookings for flights to Europe over the past nine weeks, in the lead-up to today’s launch.

And the sheer grandeur of today’s occasion was not lost, even on an industry stalwart.

flyover“For somebody as old as me, who’s been in this business for as long as I have,” Clark said, “I still got goose pimples watching those two magnificent airplanes flying so low and flying so well, with huge amounts of training having gone into  that 20 minutes of flying from our flight crews and flight operation departments.”

The pilots reportedly practised by flying the route dozens of times in sophisticated flight simulators.

Qantas pilots have also been putting in the hours preparing for their new destination, with a simulator designed specifically for Dubai, ready for tonight’s first-ever scheduled flight, currently en route and expected to land here just after midnight.

Customer service staff have also been training together, learning about the similarities and differences between Skywards and the Qantas Frequently Flyer program, treating each other’s customers as their own with the aim of giving everyone a seamless experience.

flyover2The powerful alliance has great potential to shake up the global aviation business. It represents the joining of forces of two of the world’s top twenty airlines – Emirates ranked at number 8 and Qantas at 15, according to Skytrax.

Because of the extraordinary market share the two will be working to achieve, the deal needed approval not only from Australia’s competition regulator, but Singapore’s as well. Qantas flights to and through Changi International have been largely “restructured” as Emirates codesharing comes into play and Dubai becomes its new hub for all sectors to Europe.

But there aren’t many complaints Down Under. Australians travelling to Europe via Dubai on either airline, can now get there more than two hours quicker, on average.

FBi cracks Sydney scene

Originally published in April 2003

“FBi is going to give Sydney the best aural sex it’s had in years”, says Sharon McDonald, a coordinator at Free Broadcast Incorporated. With a mission to promote Sydney’s Culture, Arts and Music, Australia’s largest community radio station is set to hit the airwaves in June 2003.

Community radio like FBI plays a real part in the emergence of an alternative arts and music culture. At the Wednesday launch event of FBi, renowned eccentric hipster John Saffran spoke about the value of FBi’s sister station in Melbourne. He thinks the relationship between community radio and a vibrant cultural scene is “a bit chicken and egg “ and outlined a dubious benefit to community radio: “There are a lot of annoying pretentious rock snobs and 3RRR allows them to get off the streets and host a show”.

One of Sydney’s amateur aficionados looking to host a show on FBi is Shaun Alexander.

Recently Shaun spied an ad for FBi radio, a soon to be launched community station who are in the final stages of selecting their team to launch with. They have been targeting fresh ideas and new talent, to train the right people for the role.

Shaun applied for one of the positions and sent a package of CDs to FBi, but he isn’t too confident at this stage “I saw the ad and I thought, what an opportunity, but now I haven’t heard back and I’m sort of thinking, ‘oh my application was dodgy’”.

As a fifteen year old, Shaun used to make compilation tapes from his parents’ record collection to impress girls. When asked how successful these efforts were, he smiles “I definitely got a laugh and a smile. I guess you can’t really ask for much more than that”. Now at 26, not much has changed. “I’m still trying to impress girls with the albums I make.

Shaun is what you may refer to as a bedroom banger or a DIY DJ. He spends time and dollars building his record collection, researching the background of artists and mixing tracks together in the comfort of his own home.

He produces a Christmas album each year for friends. “That really took off and everyone loved it and now I’ve done four of them. Since then I just thought I’d like to share my love of music with anyone who’s prepared to listen.”

Shaun is convinced that there are many more people out there who will appreciate his taste in jazz-based groove. For a few years now, Shaun has been considering getting a radio show up and running “Footloose and Fancy-free, to be named after my first compilation”.

Shaun is not alone in fretting about his application to FBi.

“Around 250 people who applied for a program or presenter position with FBi have not yet been notified. As you can imagine short-listing has been one hell of a job” said Meagan Loader, FBi program manager.

A helluva job indeed, with the plethora of enthusiasm and talent available to them.

Tim Ritchie, the MC at the FBi launch and long-time radio stalwart said: “Our volunteers are passionate. We have passion coming out of our ears. Look around and see and feel and hear how people are reacting to being part of FBi”.

New member Linda Mirabillo has volunteered because she loves “the buzz and excitement of live broadcasting”.

Local DJ, Dave Warrell says, “I chose to join FBi because I saw it as a brilliant opportunity to get into an industry that is notoriously difficult to crack, in Sydney especially.”

Rick Warner also views an opportunity: “I see working with FBi as a step in the right direction to do what I do. It’s an educator role, and I’m sick of educating my unappreciative friends”

After a six-year campaign of test broadcasts and lobbying, the collective has won the 150kW license to give it an unprecedented audience reach and all the power of commercial licenses like Triple J and Nova.

“FBi will be good radio that focuses on Sydney and Australian music. In the mainstream radio, the focus is often placed on U.S. music, giving small Australian bands little chance to get their ‘big break'” says volunteer Madeleine Genner.

Local music promoters have also jumped on the bandwidth wagon. Adele Robinson is the chief of Fuzzy Productions who have brought such events as Fuzzy Breaks and Field Day to Sydney. She says, “in terms of a station that supports dance music, there isn’t a station like FBi that does that”.

Most importantly, Fuzzy and other industry heavies have begun to put their money where their mouth is for FBi’s ‘Cash for Content’ fundraising drive.