The guessing game about the shape of a tie-up between Qantas and Emirates could be over as early as today.
It will put an end to rumours in the industry - few of which have been commented on by Qantas. To the extent that the factual information has been refined over time, it has mostly come from Emirates boss Tim Clark, who has confirmed it will be a code-share relationship rather than one that contains any revenue-sharing element.
Most industry experts agree this works better for Emirates than Qantas, but it's hard to escape the fact that the Middle Eastern carrier is in the stronger negotiating position.
One regularly speculated element to the deal is that Qantas will give up running international mainline operations from Perth and Adelaide - certainly those destined for Europe.
Another more speculative rumour is that Emirates will take two of the Qantas London slots that are currently being used by British Airways.
A surer bet (as it has been strongly hinted at by Qantas boss Alan Joyce) is that the Flying Kangaroo will drop its last remaining continental European service to Frankfurt.
Those concerned about the possibility that the scales are tipped too far in Emirates' favour are suggesting Qantas will need to operate some services into Emirates' hub in
Dubai or risk losing European-bound customers to Emirates.
But even if Emirates has nutted out a superior deal, this does not preclude the arrangement from being financially advantageous for Qantas. An airline losing $450 million from its mainline international operation has to pull every available lever to claw its way back to profitability.
One of the positive elements to Qantas' July operating stats, released on Tuesday, was that it appeared to be gaining some traction on improving yield in the troublesome mainline international segment - mainly due to the flow-on from dropping some unprofitable routes, including from Hong Kong and Bangkok to London.
The code-share deal with Emirates will enable Qantas to service a slew of European destinations in a virtual way using the Middle Eastern carrier's extensive network. In doing so Qantas can retain its customer base to feed into its domestic network. Joyce has long maintained the group needs its (albeit loss-making) international service to support its more profitable local operations and attractive frequent flyer business.
Macquarie Equities analyst Russell Shaw estimates the benefits of the Emirates deal to be worth $80 million to $90 million annually on a profit-before-tax basis.
One of the unspoken elements to the restitution of Qantas' international operations is the extent to which it will result in job losses among the cabin crew, including pilots.
While the airline has not called out any job losses, the pilots are bracing for redundancies that could be in the order of hundreds. Shrinking this element of the business in order to make it sustainable is inevitable.
Meanwhile, investors were focused in the early part of this week on the falling numbers of passengers travelling both domestically and internationally.
While cutting offshore routes has improved the yield in international mainline, there are concerns that the yield in Qantas' domestic operations has been falling precipitously because of increased capacity flooding the market from all players and the resultant fare discounting.
According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst, Matthew Spence, domestic capacity, while up 5.5 per cent year on year in July, will rise further as August additions come through.
Consensus appears to be that the capacity push will continue at least until the end of this calendar year.
It is understandable the market was disappointed there was less information contained in these monthly stats than Qantas had previously provided - in particular there was no clarity on the movement in yield.
In a disclosure sense, Qantas' information trimming brings it into line with the remainder of the industry, but it runs the risk of unsettling investors in an already skittish market.
JPMorgan's Scott Carroll noted that poor earnings visibility remained a key risk for investors.
It should come as no surprise that domestic yields are under pressure. It was widely foreshadowed by management, which said it would fight a capacity and fare war in order to keep its local market share at or above what it believes to be an optimal 65 per cent.
Nonetheless the share price reacted negatively.
The minnow in the Australian domestic market, Tiger Airways, said there was a strain on airline profits, but its chief executive, Andrew David, said the war had to settle down at some stage and that his airline had to work through the capacity glut for the next six months.
How the share price reacts in the near term will depend on the details of the Emirates tie-up.
The mere confirmation of the code share should give the stock a bit of positive momentum.