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Qatar Airways Finally Gets to Fly to Brisbane as Competitors Suspend Operations and Abandon Australia

Qatar Airways Finally Gets to Fly to Brisbane as Competitors Suspend Operations and Abandon Australia

Qatar Airways is to significantly bolster its presence in Australia by adding 48,000 additional seats to and from the country across 28 extra flights per week – including for the first time a direct service to Brisbane. The decision to expand its presence in Australia comes as other big players abandon the market, including national flag carrier Qantas who will suspend all international services at the end of March.

Yesterday, Qatar Airways said it was seeing a surge in passenger demand as other airlines cancelled flights or grounded their entire aircraft fleets. In the last few days, both Emirates and Etihad were ordered by local authorities to axe all passenger services, while both Singapore Airways and Cathay Pacific have also been hit hard by tough new entry restrictions that ban foreign transit passengers in their respective hubs.

Qatar Airways has a fleet of xx aircraft. The average age is just five years - one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the world. Photo Credit: Qatar Airways
Photo Credit: Qatar Airways

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways has managed to profit from the chaos, reinstating its Airbus A380 superjumbos that only a few weeks ago had too many seats for the few passengers travelling. Simon Talling-Smith, Qatar’s chief commercial officer said there was a “very strong desire amongst people all over the world to get home” as governments imposed lockdowns and travel restrictions made it harder by the day for people to get to where they were going.

“We know there are many people who want to be with their families and loved ones during this difficult time,” explained Akbar Al Baker, the controversial Qatar Airways chief executive who was filmed questioning the risk posed by the Covid-19 outbreak before it was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“We are thankful to the Australian Government, Airports and staff for their support in helping us to add additional flights to get people home, and in particular, to bring flights to Brisbane,” he continued.

Qatar Airways has an air services agreement with the Australian government that would normally only allow them to fly 21 weekly services between Doha and four major Australian cities. Choosing to prioritise those flights to Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, Qatar Airways has until now not operated a direct flight to Brisbane.

The issue has been caused animosity between Qatar Airways and its Oneworld alliance partner Qantas because the Australian flag carrier has lobbied the Australian government not to grant rights to additional flights.

Qatar Airways will now serve Australia with the following flights:

  • Daily service to Brisbane – Boeing 777-300
  • Double-daily service to Perth – Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300
  • Double-daily service to Melbourne – Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 777-300
  • Triple-daily service to Sydney – Airbus A350-100 and Boeing 777-300

The additional services will start from March 29 and until further notice. Qantas says it has no plans to restart international services until the end of May, while both Emirates and Etihad will be grounded until at least April 8.

Al Baker, however, conceded that new travel restrictions from governments around the world meant Qatar Airways might have to cancel flights at short notice. For the time being, the airline is still operating around 150 daily flights to more than 70 cities worldwide.

“We are working closely with governments around the world, and wherever possible we will reinstate or add more flights,” Al Baker added.