Australian Government Rejects Qatar Airways’ Request To Increase Flights

Doha-based Qatar Airways (QR) has had its Australian aspirations quashed, as its application to Australian soil for a further 21 round trip slots (in addition to its current 28) has been declined. The application was for the carrier to increase its Australian operations to its four busiest airports and Doha hub.

The airline, which remained loyal throughout the pandemic, continued the majority of its services down under to the area, including its temporary Doha – Brisbane – Auckland and Doha – Adelaide – Auckland operations (with the latter onward connection to Auckland poised to stop effective August 31st).

Currently, Qatar Airways operates multiple weekly flights between Doha Hamad International Airport (DOH) and the largest cities of five Australian states, including Adelaide (ADL), Brisbane (BNE), Melbourne (MEL), Perth (SYD), and Sydney (SYD).

As part of the airline’s agreement with Australia, it is limited to the weekly 28 round trips to the country’s four largest cities (Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney). However, it has unlimited access to all other Australian ports. With this, the carrier has attempted to carve out extra markets with its connection to Adelaide and its onward tag flights to capitalize on this gap in the agreement. This is where the industry has seen Qatar Airways operating ‘ghost flights,’ such as its DOH-MEL-ADL or DOH-SYD-CBR, where the onward connections usually have next to no passengers.

The negotiations between the two countries and re-negotiating their air services agreement could be viewed as one-sided, as no Australian carriers are interested in operating in the Qatari capital.

While it’s no secret that the Australian Government is fiercely protective of the national carrier Qantas, the Australian airline has also been quite opinionated on other carriers’ operations on its home soil, especially in the fragile market we are seeing post-pandemic. As reported by the Financial Review, explained Qatar’s bid:

“(QR) was understood to have had the support of state premiers keen to see more international tourists return. But another industry source said granting Qatar more landing rights would potentially destabilize the landscape as other airlines return to full capacity.”

Australian Transport Minister Catherine King confirmed recently that “the Australian government is not considering additional bilateral air rights with Qatar.” Effectively quashing the Qatari carrier’s bid to expand operations in its key cities.

The Doha-based airline currently operates its Airbus A380 daily between Doha to Melbourne and Perth International Airports, in addition to its Boeing 777 flights to Brisbane and Melbourne International Airport. Its extra services to make the most of the ‘other cities’ agreement avails the carrier to operate a second 777 service between Doha, Melbourne, and Adelaide.


Simple Flying

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