Qatar Airways seeks year-round Brisbane flights

The Gulf carrier wants to help connect Brisbane and Queensland to the rest of the world on a year-round basis.

By David Flynn, October 11 2021
Qatar Airways seeks year-round Brisbane flights

Qatar Airways hopes to permanently add Brisbane to its extensive network, based in part on the airline’s ongoing support of flights to and from Australia throughout the pandemic.

The Gulf carrier’s flights between Doha and Brisbane have been operating on a temporary basis, but the airline has requested this be switched to a permanent arrangement allowing daily flights to the Queensland capital.

“I hope that the government will rethink the request of Qatar Airways, keeping in mind that we were the only foreign carrier that was dedicated, even at a time that we were making losses on the route, to keep on connecting Australia to the outside world,” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker tells Executive Traveller.

“Even though there were capacity restrictions and frequency restrictions, we continued our operations to serve the people of Australia, so our commitment was there not only in good times but also in bad times.”

The major obstacle to Qatar’s continued flying to Brisbane is a Government-imposed limit on its services to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, and in particular that Qatar’s second daily Doha-Sydney service must extend to Canberra.

About that odd Canberra leg...

“The problem with Sydney is that if we fly the second daily frequency to Sydney, we have to extend it to Canberra” Al Baker explains.

This is a workaround which allows for doubly-daily Sydney flights if that extra flight continues to a ‘regional airport’ – a category which happens to include the airport for Australia’s capital city.

Qatar Airways began its Doha-Sydney-Canberra route in February 2018, but the schedule called for the aircraft to spend over five hours on the ground at Canberra before returning to Sydney and onwards to Doha.

“That is very uneconomical for us, because we also have to leave the aircraft there for an extended period of time, so this is a very big financial drain – and we have no other alternative because we can only operate two flights to Sydney if we extend one to Canberra.”

Statistics from the Australian Government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Economics highlighted that in between July 2018-June 2019, the airline saw a load factor of just 12% on this Canberra leg.

“We cannot bring passengers from Canberra to Sydney, we can only bring passengers in transit to carry them beyond Sydney from Canberra.”

“So we would like to drop it because connecting the capital to Sydney is a route that should be flown by Qantas.”

Another factor in Qatar’s favour for continued flights to Brisbane is that Etihad Airways confirmed in October 2020 that it would no longer fly to the Queensland capital even after the pandemic shockwave subsides.

Brisbane was one of several “underperforming” destinations culled from Etihad’s network, in a decision the airline described as “a commercial one” made “as part of an ongoing review”.

Also read: Can you earn Qantas Points, status on Qatar’s Business Lite fares?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 136

I hope they get it, it’s long overdue. Working in Iraq next year and they are currently selling tickets from Brisbane to Baghdad, but have held out from booking any since I don’t know what they’ll be doing in June.

08 May 2020

Total posts 31

I hope they get it too, their service during Covid was very welcome and their connections at Doha open up Brisbane to huge swathes of Europe (and beyond).

05 Jan 2021

Total posts 9

BNE-DOH would be very attractive but who knows when international flights will be allowed to start in Queensland !


03 May 2013

Total posts 642

As long as its an A350.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 105

My major regret is not having been able to fly Qatar in June 2020 Melb. to Venice and a subsequent LHR to Melb. ( in Q suites) Refund arrived within 4 weeks, bugger about the missed status points, but with  a bit of luck, 2022?!  As a recreational, frustrated as hell, traveller, they really appeal as they are here and flying there!

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 105

At long last: F( light) at the end of an 18 month tunnel.....bring it on!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 271

I have enough Q Points for a DOH-Australia upgrade to J, so all I need is a status extension and flights to BNE to use it!

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1021

There is nothing in the current Air Service Agreement that would prevent QR starting flights to OOL.

OOL is only 80kms from Brisbane. Other QR destinations are a similar distance away from the city the airport serves.

The problem with QR's request for more permanent "big 4" slots is that they'll keep pushing until they get 35, up from the current 21, at which point they'll drop CBR entirely.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 136

They have investigated OOL before and the Gold Coast Council and business groups even sent delegations to Doha to persuade the, but the business case mustn’t have stacked up. As someone who used to live on the Gold Coast and now lives in Brisbane - OOL simply does not serve Brisbane (nor BNE the Gold Coast). It can be up to 3 hours on public transit to get between the cities.

35 is a reasonable frequency increase, allows them to drop the Canberra leg that usually flies empty and allows growth to Brisbane. 42 or 49 would be better.

22 Jan 2019

Total posts 4

While the request for QR is fair enough, the stated reasons for ceasing flights to CBR were present when they started operating them. They were 'confident' of growing the market and the times were right apparently. So if SYD-CBR is a sector QF should be flying why did QR start in the first place (rhetorical question)? 

Living in Canberra and having used that Qatar flight, it was a dream clearing CIQ inbound at Canberra with 20 or so other people, but always wondered how long before relations between QF and QR would thaw to see that capacity go elswhere.

They deserve the Brisbane approval. Where was Qantas during the pandemic??? In the Mojave desert.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 39

Any Current Air Service Agreements need to be overhauled in light of Covid-19 which is has been the armageddon scenario for the entire aviation industry  

14 Oct 2021

Total posts 2

Enquired about the Brisbane to Doha continuation 3 days ago. Never flown with them as would have to fly from north Qld to Sydney to connect .Would  be great if Qatar continued flying.Also a late afternoon flight if possible rather than a evening flight departure. Looked up flights the other day  Brisbane Doha Venice but noticed no direct Qatar flight into Venice had to go via Milan Barcelona or Heathrow or Rome can any one shed any reason why  when Emirates is flying direct into both .

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jun 2019

Total posts 8

A lot of routes from 2019 have not been reinstated, QR flew to Dubrovnik too and it’s also gone currently - EK for example in Euro Summer 22 only has 1 SYD DXB and DXB ATH still, the flight ATH DXB SYD needs an overnight in DXB, hopefully more schedules come back but will likely be 23-24 before full schedule to secondary cities like VCE DBV

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2017

Total posts 12

Love flying Qatar having flown first class from Sydney to Doha return and business to London on 2 occasions but inconvenient connecting to and from OOL to Sydney.  I hope Qatar is allowed to continue daily service from Brisbane as The Darling and I will be back. Can’t wait!!!

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qatar Airways seeks year-round Brisbane flights