CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - Australia's biggest airline Qantas is still keen to work with Dubai-based Emirates on routes to Europe, even as it starts to open up more of its own routes, executives said on Tuesday.
Qantas is bypassing Emirates' hub Dubai on a new Perth-London flight and has indicated that it wants to fly to Paris and Frankfurt from Perth, in another challenge to Emirates.
"Even when we start flying direct to London, still Dubai will play a big role," Qantas Group Chief Executive Alan Joyce told journalists at a briefing on the sidelines of an airline industry meeting in Mexico.
"Emirates has 40 destinations in Europe. We're never going to fly direct to places like Venice and Prague," he added.
Qantas Group also sees big opportunities in China, both for its main brand and low-cost unit Jetstar.
"It's about to overtake New Zealand as the biggest inbound market into Australia," Gareth Evans, CEO of Qantas International. "Not all of that is profitable growth so we have to be careful on how we take that opportunity."
On other partnerships, Qantas is planning within the next few months to refile an application for a joint venture with American Airlines (AAL.O) that would allow them to coordinate prices and flight schedules, Evans said.
The pair's application for a joint venture covering the United States, Australia and New Zealand markets was rejected in November under the Obama administration in the face of opposition from Hawaiian Airlines Inc and JetBlue Airways Corp.
"My understanding is that it will take less time this time through, but we'll have to wait and see," Evans said.
Reporting by Victoria Bryan