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QATAR AIRWAYS: Asks Australia to let it double flights, again

QATAR AIRWAYS: Asks Australia to let it double flights, again

In 2023, Qatar Airways asked to double its number of flights into Australia. The Minister, Catherine King rejected the request. Rumours and some evidence suggested that Qantas had lobbied hard against the expansion of the Qatari airline in Australia.

Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, new head of Qatar Airways [Qatar Airways]
Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, new head of Qatar Airways [Qatar Airways]

Extra Qatar Airways flights previously rejected

The rejection in July 22023 was widely criticised at a time of massively high international airfares. The Transport Minister Catherine King provided inconsistent reasons for the decision, which only aggravated the situation. Her reasons included an adverse effect on Australian airlines and the treatment of women with invasive searches at Hamad Airport. Finding a newborn abandoned in a toilet rubbish bin caused the incident.

Experts estimated that the adverse decision could cost the Australian economy around AU$ 500 million in lost tourism income.

a seat with a screen on the side
Qatar Airways business class A380 2021 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

New request for Qatar Airways flights increase

In September 2023, the Transport Department told a Senate inquiry into bilateral air rights that Qatar Airways was top of the list for increased access to Australia.

The AFR reports that the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority has submitted a fresh request to increase flights. Targeted airports are Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney from March 2024. Neither Qatar Airways nor the Transport Department have confirmed the application.

With inbound tourism 10% down on pre-COVID levels, Australian tourism groups are likely to support an increase in access. Increased flights to Australia would bring downward pressure on airfares. That would be a welcome trend.

a row of seats with monitors on the side
Q Suites – Business Class [Qatar Airways]

2PAXfly Takeout

Qatar has some bridges to mend in Australia. The invasive search lawsuit by the affected women was rejected by the Federal Court. There are still other suits to resolve. The invasive searches caused headlines around the world, and although Qatar Airlines was not directly responsible for implementing the searches, other associated Qatari government-owned organisations were.

Tactically, it would be good for the Qataris to resolve these issues, as it would remove a potential bar to their successful application for additional landing rights.

Qatar Airways, despite its excellent service, has brought a bunch of controversy with it in women’s circles due to the invasive searches and amongst the LGBTIQ+ community for its reported treatment of some staff. It doesn’t help that some Qatari laws are anti-women and the LGBTIQ+ community. This is not uncommon in the Middle East. The opprobrium directed at Qatar Airways could be applied equally to Emirates, Etihad, Saudia and yet-to-fly Riyadh Air.

Putting that issue to one side, in my experience, flying with them provides excellent service. I have not had an issue, although those who have, say their ground staff support when things go wrong is either non-existent or hard to locate.

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