Qatar Airways makes a move for year-round Brisbane flights

Qatar Airways has applied for “a reasonable increase” in its Australian traffic rights, confirms Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker.

By Chris Chamberlin, September 3 2020
Qatar Airways makes a move for year-round Brisbane flights

Qatar Airways hopes to permanently add Brisbane to its route map, with the carrier formally requesting “a reasonable increase” to its Australian traffic rights.

That increase would allow for year-round Brisbane flights, without sacrificing services to other Australian cities. Currently, the airline can run 21 weekly return flights from Doha to its choice of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.

Pre-COVID, these were consumed by daily services to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, leaving no room for Brisbane.

Qatar Airways can also operate a further seven weekly return flights via one of these airports into another city: rights the airline used to add Canberra to its network, via the capital’s closest major hub, Sydney.

Speaking at this week’s CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker confirmed the airline’s application for additional flights, adding that “we hope that the government of Australia, the Deputy Prime Minister that is in charge of transportation, will consider our request for a reasonable increase.”

Qatar Airways vs Emirates

Drawing a comparison to Qatar Airways’ Gulf competitor Emirates, Al Baker added that “we don’t want to come five times a day to Sydney and five times a day to Melbourne, and connect Auckland to Melbourne and Sydney, and go four times a day to Perth… we are reasonable, and we want to serve the people of Australia.”

Beyond Australia’s four biggest airports, plus Canberra, Qatar Airways also operates flights to Adelaide, which aren’t subject to the cap.

Speaking with Executive Traveller on the sidelines of the CAPA Summit, Qatar Airways’ Vice President Pacific, Thomas Lee Scruby, adds, “we would absolutely love to service Brisbane on a daily basis.”

“I think the demand is there for us to do so. To support Queensland has been a dream of Qatar Airways for many years and I really hope we can do that in the future.”

Qatar Airways is currently flying to Brisbane – and onwards to Auckland – until October 23 under a temporary operating permit.

Read: Qatar Airways returns to Auckland, with flights via Brisbane

Friendlier foes: Qantas vs Qatar Airways

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has previously opposed Qatar Airways’ requests for more Australian flights, but Al Baker hopes the airlines can put any differences aside and strengthen their ties going forward.

“It all depends on my friend Alan!” Al Baker quips.

“Qantas had to stop international flights to save the cost … (and) your second national carrier – Emirates! – completely pulled out all their frequencies from your country,” jests Al Baker, “while we sustained, and we actually increased flights.”

“We have offered to work with Qantas … we are part of the Qantas alliance: part of Oneworld. Unfortunately, maybe Alan is in a predicament because he has a long-term understanding or agreement with Emirates, but we are open, we are ready to work as part of both an alliance, and an operator into the Australian market.”

Qantas and Emirates maintain a Joint Venture partnership, providing for closer collaboration than would be typical between standard members of an alliance like Oneworld, such as between Qantas and Qatar Airways.

Major airlines based in the United Arab Emirates – that’s Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways – are currently allowed a total of 168 return flights per week between Australia and the UAE.

That's six times as many flights as Qatar Airways is permitted into Australia’s four major airports.

Still, “we have to respect the bilateral caps and we'll work closely with the Australian Government through this. We’ve still got a long way to go,” Scruby says.

Also read: Qatar Airways brings back Adelaide-Doha flights

Chris Chamberlin

A Brisbane-based contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Government owned/subsidised airlines seem to be the only option at the present time. Everyone else struggling to survive. 

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 248

Good. Qatar never stopped flying, and Australia will need all the flights possible to recover from Covid and re-establish global links. Hope they can get extra flights to Sydney and Melbourne too.


02 May 2016

Total posts 60

Interesting, one must wonder how 168 return flights per week was ever justified across 2 airlines from the UAE. QR have a point though and at least deserve to be able to fly to each capital city. They’ve continued to bring Aussies home through this entire pandemic and that should be rewarded.

22 Oct 2014

Total posts 14

QR have a superior product. QF/EK/EY should be concerned

08 May 2020

Total posts 32

Maybe they can stipulate Brisbane only for the extra flights if they’re worried about something, makes sense to open it up given the new runway

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 48

As a TA , in my experience with my customers, Qatar has been amazing to deal with over the COVID period, refunds take like 2-3 weeks,  free changes, refund fee waivers, regular services and multiple options, no other airline even comes close to what they have been providing, customers will remember this. Thanks Qatar and well done. 

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 92

More signs that BA May eventually give up on aus 

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1021

QR is also allowed unlimited flights into airports other then MEL, PER, SYD and BNE. Nothing stopping them from flying to OOL.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jun 2013

Total posts 17

Great news! We had booked a RTW trip through OneWorld partners & primarily QR (albeit having to cancel due to the pandemic). Hopefully they can get approval for BNE (my home airport) so when we can travel, I can jump straight on to them

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Jul 2014

Total posts 27

Poor AJ, maybe he should take a few leaves out of QR's play book on customer service, Remember AJ said competition is good for QF when he was talking Virgin.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 517

AJ wants competition?  Really?  So . . . Qantas can't scrutinize their own game and lift performance without someone else showing them how its done?  This is the same Qantas that boasts of its ability to self-regulates compliance with foreign ownership restrictions (and remain a proud Australia airline)?  

Hmmmm . . . something not quite right there.

05 Sep 2020

Total posts 1


Why doesn’t QATAR seriously look at Cairns, they could TAG 3 flights a week with BNE when they go daily into BNE.  It wouldn’t be classed as a landing as regional airport similar to ADL and CBR.  Cathay Pacific did the same thing very successfully for 23 years this being BNE CNS HKG and return HKG BNE CNS  HKG.  Cairns is screaming for extra capacity main since the withdrawal of CX and QATAR fits the mould perfectly with great connections to the US AND EUrope

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 517

Great Idea.  The new Chrystalbrook hotels and resorts built in CNS within last 2-3 years have added enormous capacity, and Port Douglas is just up the road.  CNS Airport management should be all over this.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

Old news.. I heard that they have already appointed a ground handler in Brisbane! 

It’s not if! more like when they become permanent fixture 

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