Australia’s capital cities could be in for a dramatic boost in the number of international flight options, with Qatar Airways asking the Federal Government to unlock additional routes to its Doha hub and beyond.
The Gulf carrier currently faces a strict limit on how many flights per week it can offer from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane: at the time of writing the schedule stands at double-daily flights from Melbourne, and one daily service from Sydney and Brisbane.
However, a submission to the Federal Government “seeks to double its current flights into Australia,” according to Sky News, and offer an “alternative” to existing international airlines which enjoy three to four flights a day from the largest cities.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told Sky News Business Editor Ross Greenwood his airline was “offering an alternative to the Australian people.”
While reiterating that Qatar Airways continued flying to Australia through the pandemic, when most other airlines pulled the plug, Al Baker also took a shot at Oneworld partner Qantas, saying “the largest operator in Australia (Qantas) has cut its flight to 50 per cent of pre-Covid level (and) more than doubled the price of the fares to the Australian people in the benefit of the shareholders… in addition, getting billions of dollars of state aid during the pandemic period in 20 and 21.”
Sky News has also reported that Qantas “is attempting to quash the submission on commercial grounds, arguing the plans are unfair as non-government owned carriers rebuild in the post-Covid travel market.”
Qatar Airways recently entered into a ‘strategic alliance’ with Virgin Australia, putting the airline in a unique position of being a partner to both Qantas – via their shared membership of the Oneworld alliance – and Virgin.
As previously reported, Qatar and Virgin are planning to launch “a market-leading proposition for business travellers, providing more choice and value for business flyers travelling between Australia, the Middle East and Europe.”
It’s not yet known if this “corporate and SME travel offering” will be a component of Virgin Australia’s Business Flyer scheme and Qatar Airways’ Beyond Businessrewards program, or take wing as its own entity with links to both Business Flyer and Beyond Business.