- Qatar Airways is “shocked and surprised” after their request for additional weekly flights to Australia was rejected.
- The airline claims that the government did not provide a reason for rejecting their application and that they found out about the decision through the media, rather than from the government directly.
- There are suggestions that the rejection may be influenced by the government’s close relationship with Qantas.
Qatar Airways officials have appeared before an Australian senate inquiry into the airline industry. The Middle Eastern carrier was recently denied permission to increase flights into the country, a decision it says it is “shocked and surprised” by.
Qatar Airways flight application rejection
The Qatari airline had requested an additional 21 weekly flights into Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, but this was rejected by Australian authorities in July. The carrier currently operates 28 weekly flights to Australia’s four largest airports – Brisbane Airport (BNE), Melbourne Airport (MEL), Perth Airport (PER), and Sydney International Airport (SYD) – contributing around $3 billion to the national economy, which would have doubled if its flight application was accepted.
Photo: Seth Jaworski | Shutterstock
Qatar Airways’ senior vice president of global sales, Matt Raos, appeared before a committee this morning. In his opening remarks, Raos commented,
“When other airlines turned their back on Australia, Australians turned to us during COVID. The Australian government asked us to help Australians return home. In fact, some members of parliament and from all sides of politics also asked us to help their constituents return home.”
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker recently labeled the decision as “very unfair” – there are suggestions that the government’s close relationship with Qantas influenced the decision, with Chairman Richard Goyder set to appear before the committee later today. As reported by ABC News, Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka claimed the government changed its stance on Qatar’s application only after former Qantas CEO Alan Joyce expressed his dissatisfaction.
No reason given
Qatar Airways claims the government provided “no reason for rejecting our application,” adding that it only found out about the decision through the media rather than formally from the government.
Photo: Minh K Tran | Shutterstock
“We don’t think this decision fully takes into account the interests of Australians heading abroad who are today paying too much for their effort. It’s no secret. We don’t think it’s in the interest of international visitors coming here.”
Qatar Airways became Australia’s leading international carrier in 2020, operating up to 48,000 weekly seats during the pandemic.
Federal Transport Minister Catherine King rejected Qatar’s flight application after signing a letter to five Australian women involved in a strip-search incident in Qatar in 2020. The five women were part of a group of 13 female passengers pulled from a Qatar Airways flight and strip-searched after a premature baby was found in a terminal bathroom at Hamad International Airport – they are now suing the airline through Australia’s Federal Court.
“Our customer split is roughly 50/50 between male and female passengers. We see this as a one-off, isolated issue and are committed to ensuring it does not happen again. Let me provide assurance we have had nothing like that very extreme incident previously in our history and we’re completely committed to ensuring nothing like this ever happens again.”
Qatar Airways’ senior vice president of aeropolitical and corporate affairs, Fathi Atti, said the search incident was never formally raised with the airline during its application.
Why do you think the Australian government rejected Qatar Airways’ application to operate more flights? Let us know your opinions in the comments.
Source: ABC News