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Qatar Airways is Once Again Trying to Get Additional Flying Rights to Australia’s Four Biggest Cities

Qatar Airways is Once Again Trying to Get Additional Flying Rights to Australia’s Four Biggest Cities

a plane flying over water

Qatar Airways is once again trying to secure additional flying rights to Australia’s four biggest airports after its request to add extra services to the country was denied in 2023, partly because of a controversial incident at Doha during the pandemic.

The airline is currently only permitted to fly 28 weekly services between its hub in Doha and Australia’s four largest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, but last year, Qatar Airways hoped that the Australian government would increase that quota by an additional 21 weekly flights.

That application, however, was quickly rejected by Australian Transport Minister Catherine King.

At the time, King was accused of operating a ‘protection racket’ for Australian flag carrier Qantas by stifling increased competition on key international routes, but King said her decision was partly based on an October 2020 incident at Doha Hamad International Airport when 13 Australian women were ordered off a Qatar Airways plane and subjected to forced vaginal exams.

The mistreatment of the women at the hands of Qatari police derailed a plan by the then-boss of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, to win the support of Australia’s government by continuing loss-making flights to the country despite extensive pandemic-era travel restrictions.

Al Baker publicly made known his displeasure at King’s refusal to grant Qatar Airways additional flying rights, telling CNN that he found the decision “very unfair” given that the airline had been “so supportive of Australia, repatriating the stranded citizens from around the world”.

But as reported by Executive Traveller, Qatar Airways is once again eyeing additional flying rights to Australia under the leadership of new CEO Badr Mohammed Al Meer.

During a major aviation conference in Dubai over the weekend, Al Meer said Qatar Airways was once again talking to the Australian government and that he see’s negotiations “moving in a positive way”.

“Hopefully in the next few months we’ll get some positive news from Australia, and we look forward to expanding our operations and growing in the Australian market, which will always be to the benefit of the Australian community and passengers,” Al Meer added.

This time around, Qatar Airways is hoping to win access to 28 additional weekly flights.

Late last year, Qatar Airways faced the indignity of seeing the government of Türkiye win approval for its air carriers to initially operate up to 21 weekly flights to Australia’s four biggest international gateways.

From late 2024, however, the permitted capacity will increase to 28 weekly flights and by late 2025, up to 35 weekly flights will be allowed, which is currently more than Qatar Airways is permitted to operate.

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