Australian Government Rejects Qatar Airways’ Bid for More Flights

Qatar Airways

The Australian Government has rejected Qatar Airways’ request to increase its operations in the country by an additional 21 round trip slots per week. The Doha-based airline currently operates multiple weekly flights between Doha and the largest cities of five Australian states, including Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. However, the airline’s application to expand its operations to its four busiest airports and Doha hub has been declined.

Qatar Airways’ Agreement with Australia

As part of Qatar Airways’ agreement with Australia, the airline is limited to 28 round trips per week to the country’s four largest cities, namely Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. However, it has unlimited access to all other Australian ports. The airline has attempted to capitalize on this gap in the agreement by operating “ghost flights” with its connection to Adelaide and its onward tag flights. These flights usually have next to no passengers, but the airline hoped to expand its operations with an application for 21 extra return flights a week.

Qatar Airways
Image by: César Prieto via PLANESPOTTERS

Qatar Airways’ Operations in Australia

Despite the pandemic, Qatar Airways continued the majority of its services to Australia, including its temporary Doha-Brisbane-Auckland and Doha-Adelaide-Auckland operations, with the latter onward connection to Auckland poised to stop effective August 31st. The airline currently operates its Airbus A380 daily between Doha and 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 avail the carrier to operate a second 777 service between Doha, Melbourne, and Adelaide.

Australian Airlines’ Operations in Qatar

Qatar Airways’ negotiations with Australia 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 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.

Qatar Airways
Image via GCMap

Reasons for the Rejection

According to an industry source, granting Qatar Airways more landing rights would potentially destabilize the landscape as other airlines return to full capacity. Qatar Airways was understood to have had the support of state premiers keen to see more international tourists return. However, the Australian Transport Minister Catherine King confirmed recently that “the Australian government is not considering additional bilateral air rights with Qatar.” This effectively quashes the Qatari carrier’s bid to expand operations in its key cities.

The Australian Government’s decision to reject Qatar Airways’ request for additional flights is a blow to the airline’s aspirations to expand its operations in the country. Despite the airline’s attempts to capitalize on the gap in its agreement with Australia, the government remains firm on its decision to limit the airline’s operations to its four largest cities. The rejection also highlights the government’s protective stance towards its national carrier Qantas and its reluctance to allow other airlines to operate on its home soil, especially in the fragile market we are seeing post-pandemic.

Do you think the Australian government’s decision to reject Qatar Airways’ request for additional flights is justified?

Also, you might be interested in reading: Qatar Airways Slashes Award Ticket Prices for Partner Airlines – Big Win for Avios Users!

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