D-DAY for Qantas in its attempt to cement its proposed union with Emirates will be December 20.
That is when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will release its draft decision on the planned alliance between the airlines.
While not the final judgment, the so-called draft determination will give a clear idea of the competition regulator's position on the proposed tie-up.
The duo wants to co-operate on passenger and freight operations on routes from Australia to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and New Zealand.
The chairman of the ACCC, Rod Sims, said its officials were still in the process of writing what would be a long draft decision.
Although there was a slim chance it would be released earlier, Mr Sims said the date set for making the decision public was December 20. "It may not be possible to bring it forward - we have to get this thing right," he said.
Other airlines, including Virgin Australia, have raised concerns about parts of the deal, but federal and state governments, Australian airports and tourism leaders have been overwhelmingly supportive.