Qatar Airways returns to Canberra, goes double-daily to Melbourne

And it’s Qsuites business class all the way on these Boeing 777s.

By David Flynn, July 7 2022
Qatar Airways returns to Canberra, goes double-daily to Melbourne

Qatar Airways will resume daily flights to Canberra from October 1, while also boosting its Melbourne-Doha services to twice daily, as the Gulf carrier moves to capitalise on continued growth in international travel.

The Oneworld member and Virgin Australia partner previously flew to Canberra as an add-on leg for a second Sydney service, but now it’s Melbourne in the spotlight thanks to a “strategic agreement” with the Victorian state government “to increase connectivity to Melbourne to further boost trade and tourism.” 

The additional Melbourne and Canberra flights will be undertaken by a Boeing 777 outfitted with Qatar Airways’ widely-acclaimed Qsuites in business class.

Here’s how the daily Canberra-Melbourne schedule shapes up from October 1:

QR989 will depart Canberra at 2.30pm, reaching Melbourne at 3.45pm; it’ll then continue onto Doha at 5.15pm, arriving into Qatar Airways’ hub at 11.50pm the same day, to connect to flights spearing out to Europe, the UK, South Africa, India and pretty much the rest of the globe. 

The QR988 return leg depart Doha at 1.30am, lands in Melbourne at 11.05pm, makes a red-eye departure for Canberra at 12.35am and arrives into the national capital at 1.50am.

The added Melbourne/Canberra route brings Qatar Airways to a total of 40 weekly flights to six Australian cities, including Brisbane as a new year-round addition to the airline’s network map.

“Melbourne is the original home for Qatar Airways in Australia, and we are excited to enhance our operations there, as a testament to both strong demand and our deep commitment to Australia,” noted Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker.

“The launch of the additional daily flight to Melbourne ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will allow more football fans travel to attend their respective matches.”

The 2022 FIFA World Cup takes place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.

“There is huge demand for international travel out of Melbourne, and these extra services couldn’t come at a better time with the soccer World Cup kicking off in November,” added Melbourne Airport Chief Executive Officer, Lorie Argus.

“Qatar Airways is already a favourite with passengers heading to the Middle East or Europe, and given their partnerships with both Virgin Australia and Qantas, we expect these new flights will prove very popular.”

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1108

The addition of a second 777 service from MEL would tend to suggest it is unlikely the A380 will return for MEL-DOH unfortunately.

01 Oct 2021

Total posts 16

A380 can replace the current QR904/905 service. It's possible. 

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 238

Why would Qatar do that? This would represent a massive increase in capacity from the current 1 x B777 flight. The Victorian and ACT Governments have no doubt chipped in to underwrite this second service. Sorry, I know you want the A380 to come back to Melbourne but like they say, "wishing won't make it so."

01 Oct 2021

Total posts 16

Qatar's plan is to meet demand. They already plan to bring back the A380 to Melbourne, they are just doing it slowly. Pre-pandemic Sydney had 380 and 777 services. Melbourne is meeting those levels slowly. 

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 238

You're forgetting that Qatar Airways only restarted the A380 because it lacked aircraft to meet growing demand due to those fuselage issues with the A350s. The airline intended to scrap the A380s and that is still its plan. Also it used to have 12 A380s, now it has only six, and an A380 from Doha to Australia and back is >24hr 'utilization' compared to A380s on shorter routes like London, so adding an A380 to Melbourne would make a big dent in QR's relatively small A380 fleet, compared to the old days when it had twice as many A380s to go around. So I think your remark that "they already plan to bring back the A380 to Melbourne" is more wishful thinking than reality.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1041

The CBR flights allow QR to get an extra 7 weekly flights to the 4 main gateway cities.

The air service agreement still limits the amount of flights between Qatar and Australia.

They are limited to 28 weekly flights to BNE, SYD, MEL, PER (increased from 21 during the pandemic lockdowns, which has allowed QR to keep the BNE flights they had been operating under a temporary exemption to the air service agreement limit) and unlimited elsewhere.

They are allowed +7 extra to the weekly limit provided the extra flights are to/via an unlimited port. QR have just decided that MEL works better then SYD for 14 flights/week.

QF - Red

23 Nov 2012

Total posts 38

when will these be available for booking?

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 238

I'm seeing them available to book right now.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1108

Is the CBR terminal actually open at 2AM in the morning?  The staffing cost for a one-off flight in the middle of the night doesn't make sense.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 533

Yes, as it's a 24 hour airport.

Indian airports, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Doha, all these airports are very busy at night too. I know it might be weird for Aussies, but in the rest of world such flight timings aren't unusual.

22 Jan 2019

Total posts 6

Be interesting to see what the crew scheduling would be. A standalone MEL-CBR-MEL, with a day room in a Canberra hotel. Or a marathon DOH-MEL-CBR mutli sector. The later may not be within the guidelines, but they tend to be 'flexible' with the ME3.

Speaking with a cabin crew member years ago about the SYD-CBR-SYD, they hated it as played havoc with their sleep patterns (if they have any left), instead of the A380 flight where they did the minimum rest (~24 hours), but it was not borken by a early morning tour of duty. 


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1445

This won’t worry Canberra that much to open at midnight until 2.00am as there will probably be at least 50+ passengers joining every night for a one stop to Europe. Qantas can only offer that to London if the Perth connection works. So being one world they may even keep the lounge open. Canberra Qantas fliers to Europe will love it.

01 Nov 2017

Total posts 3

As a Canberra-based traveler, I have to protest that those return timings are a nightmare! Early morning departure from Doha and an ungodly time to arrive in Canberra. And we were hard core fans of that service pre-Covid for European trips. What a pity. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 70

My dreams have come true!!! Although I love their A380 business class and will miss that, I will trade frequency over that any day! This is a game changer for me. Bye bye QF for my EU flights!

There's a LOT of availability of reward seats on these flights, because they have just come onto the schedule, so if you want to book Qsuites business class ex-CBR or ex-MEL, jump on it!

01 Nov 2017

Total posts 3

As a Canberra traveler I have to protest about the appeal of those return flight times from Doha. An ungodly early departure from Doha bookended with an ungodly hour of arrival in Canberra.  What a pity; we were hard core fans of the pre-Covid service out of Canberra.  


03 May 2013

Total posts 654

What a shame - beautiful airline, crew, food, hard and soft product - but never on a clunky, loud, drying 777; it negates all the positives when you arrive so jet lagged.

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