Qatar Airways eager to grow Australian market

Despite being denied more flights to Australia, the Gulf carrier could be about to renew its push...

By David Flynn, March 18 2024
Qatar Airways eager to grow Australian market

Qatar Airways says it wants to expand its market in Australia, raising the possibility of twice-daily flights to Sydney and Brisbane plus three flights a day into Melbourne.

That was the Gulf carrier’s goal in 2023, when it asked the Australian government to permit an increase in flights between Qatar and Australia – a request which was controversially denied, sparking anger from travellers, airports and businesses at a time of high airfares as well as concern over the influence wielded by Qantas in blocking the proposal

A subsequent wide-reaching Senate inquiry turned the spotlight on this usually dry corner of the airline industry, with one of its recommendations being that the Qatar Airways decision be overturned

In the following months, Turkish Airlines received a massive and unexpected boost to its Australian prospects with an immediate allocation of 21 flights per week – which has seen Melbourne-Istanbul flights take off, with Sydney-Istanbul slated to follow by year’s end – increasing to 28 flights per week next year, and 35 flights per week by 2025.

While Qatar Airways is currently entitled to 28 flights per week, it faces a strict limit on how many flights per week it can offer from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane under a strict “bilateral air rights” agreement with the Australian government.

That schedule now stands at double-daily flights from its Doha hub to Melbourne with one daily service from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

However, the Qatari flag-carrier had been seeking to add 21 more flights - or one extra service per day – into Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

“I don’t think is a very big ask to the authorities” stated then-Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker at the time, aiming for a goodwill decision based on the airline continuing to operate international flights to Australia during the pandemic at a time when many international airlines stopped flying.

And those additional flights could soon be back on the table.

In an interview with CNBC over the weekend, new CEO Badr Mohammed Al Meer said Australia was one of the key markets which Qatar Airways wanted to quickly grow.

“Currently today, the markets that we want to grow in are China, India, Australia, Japan, Korea, and few other markets,” he said.

“But even if we get the growth that we require from those countries in a few months, we will start looking for growth in other markets.”

Also read: Qatar to launch next-gen Qsuite business class in July


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 966

I have a few theories here and I won't go into all of them as some may be sensitive to current negotiations. Qatar should be granted rights for extra flights; they allowed Turkish Airlines the extra flights, the Australian way is everyone is an equal. To block the extra Qatar flights is just Australian. It's also interesting Singapore Airlines is raising $500 Million in bonds at the moment and Eithad are doing deals with REX.  April - May 2024 will be interesting to say thee least.


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 966

TYPO: unAustralian

13 Sep 2022

Total posts 10

Yeah it'll be interesting to see how Etihad behaves in the Aussie market now they have an interline agreement with Rex. Compared to before COVID, Etihad is significantly underserving the Aussie market. Pre-pandemic they had 2x daily A380 flights to SYD, daily A380 to MEL, and daily flights to BNE. Now they only have 1x daily B777 to SYD and MEL. I wouldn't be surprised if they increase capacity now, and fingers crossed the EY A380 may return to Aus.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 321

EY had daily flights to PER before they pulled PER and BNE before the Covid shutdowns.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1204

Given the Federal Government's refusal was based on very hazy factors that the minister refused or was unable to disclose, it would be hard to see how Qatar could be denied again.  

There was a strong suspicion that the initial rejection was at the urging of an AJ led Qantas.  I doubt the government is prepared to burn any more political capital on supporting Qantas in this area.  Being seen to reduce cost of living including airfares probably trumps supporting a business that is no longer quite so loved by the Australian public.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

09 Aug 2016

Total posts 39

I feel very confident if they applied for these extra flights again now that they'd be waved through will minimal fuss

26 Sep 2023

Total posts 8

The QR refusal was one of the dominos that led (fairly or otherwise) to the whole Qantas debacle last Spring. Politically, the timing will never be better for QR to make another application.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 716

Add the political votes that would be secured in Western Sydney from allowing QR in, I'd say it's a foregone conclusion that QR will get everything they ask for.  

01 Jul 2021

Total posts 40

I'd love to see Qatar in Cairns one day.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jan 2013

Total posts 59

Not mentioned here is the unlimited access Qatar Airways has to cities outside of MEL, SYD, BNE and PER.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

26 Jul 2012

Total posts 38

QF 9/10 is an example  of QF's neglect, so QR better product, better service, better fares and more reliability, BRING IT ON, and I'm  sure the Melbourne  market(the biggest city in Australia) will be supporting QR! 

19 Mar 2024

Total posts 1

Qatar Airways seems really determined to amp up their presence in Australia, which is quite inspiring. Despite facing obstacles, their drive to expand in key markets like Australia reflects a savvy approach to economic growth. It's fascinating to see their resilience and eagerness to make things happen.

16 Dec 2016

Total posts 55

Qatar already has the rights to fly into other ports in Australia so why don't they use them? Fly more flights into Perth and Adelaide. Fly Canberra, Gold Coast, Darwin, Cairns. Australia already has the most open skies agreement in the world yet everyone here is just insisting that we let QR do whatever they want.  Don't let the political points that Susan Ley (spokesperson for ex Nats Leader and Chair of Rex) and the Libs used beat the Government dilute the fact that Qatar is not a country that we should immediately give everything they want to. Passengers are not guaranteed to be safe when transiting and also they can easily upgauge aircraft in Melb and Brisbane to increase seats. While everyone here loves to bash Qantas, remember that every other Govt protects its airspace and just because you want to stick your middle finger up to Alan Joyce shouldn't mean that the Australian aviation industry should get killed off by a unfairly subsidised MI carrier. Of course I fly Qatar but I also fly Qantas and I think that the ridiculous lack of perspective on our National carrier in these discussions is out of control.

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 176

Maybe its time to stop protecting Qantas and let the superior competition in to do the job more professionally. Qantas had their chance and are failing with their old aircraft, increased lounge fee's, poor schedules and generally outdated and sub-level service. 

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 92

Am surprised they're not flying into the Gold Coast. 

Massive catchment region from Brisbane to Northern NSW. A demographic that has changed considerably over the years, with more and more business, government and premium demand, plus there is still a strong travel hungry base.  For demand into the GC, if it's not someones end destination there are plenty of VA flights to connect to with minimal hassle. 

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