Qatar Airways wants to “double flights to Australia”

The Gulf airline has ambitious plans to become Australia’s leading overseas carrier.

By David Flynn, October 31 2022
Qatar Airways wants to “double flights to Australia”

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.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Aug 2017

Total posts 76

It’s genuinely difficult to know which airline to support in this case. Although I’m sympathetic to Qantas’ argument that Qatar has deeper pockets because it’s government owned (and the Qatar government is not a government that I’m a huge fan of), I think I’m leaning towards Qatar. If Qantas doesn’t want other airlines increasing capacity to/from Australia, Qantas should increase capacity itself: “use it or lose it” and all that. Another factor is that the Chinese airlines are out of the picture, perhaps for the long term. If Qatar wants to take up some of that slack, why not let them?


03 Aug 2020

Total posts 8

To be fair  (no pun intended) a recent check shows that Qatar to Europe isn’t exactly a cheap option in any class. For that matter no airline seems to be that much of a cheaper option. Also I doubt Qatar would have chosen to operate during the pandemic at a loss unless they thought there was going to be something in it for them

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 468

The "something in it for them" was the ability to fly to Brisbane, which they had wanted to do for years but could not do under the existing constraints. It became possible to do that soon after the pandemic started, when Qatar was willing to operate services to BNE (as well as SYD, MEL and PER) when Qantas and most others would not.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1034

Prior to the pandemic, QR had 21 weekly flights to the major 4 AU ports. This had been increased from 14 in 2017.

During the pandemic lockdowns and border closure, the air service agreement limits were suspended and QR was allowed to operate as many flights as they wanted, which is why they started BNE flights during 2020/21.

Shortly after the Australian border reopened, the weekly limited was increased to 28.

They also have the +7 option, where they can operate an extra 7 weekly flights to the limited 4 major ports, provided it is to/via another, unlimited Australian port. They have been using this option, but are currently not doing so in the way the extra allowance is intended.

They've been getting an extra 7 added to the allowance every 2-3 years, they also have options to show that they are serious about wanting extra flights (for example, starting a 2-3 weekly service to OOL or AVV).

QR already has permissions for 28+7 weekly flights to PER/MEL/SYD/BNE and unlimited elsewhere. If the increase frequency of the past continues, they'd likely get another 7 late next year without doing anything.

I could understand giving another 7 now and 7 more next year, but not a sudden increase to 56.

These demands just sound like more bluster and ranting from the QR CEO.


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 870

Qatar's competition for me is Singapore Airlines;

Transfer Velocity points to Kris Flyer

Easy to find Reward seating at the right points

Easy to find reward seating in business and Suites throughout the year as long as you are prepared to juggle arrivals and departure locations

That extra special touch they give to make sure you have a pleasant trip

19 Oct 2016

Total posts 2

I hope they get the approval to increase the number of flights. Love the Qsuite.

Let's talk about customer loyalty, it goes both ways, and I'm not loyal to anyone. I say let Qatar have the extra slots but Qatar do need to pick up "image'.

08 May 2020

Total posts 45

In principle, i'd give them an extra flight for every $x billion they forgo in gvt subsidies.  Revoke them in the following year for every unexplained $y billion on the balance sheet.  Possibly easier said than done.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

23 May 2013

Total posts 46

When did Perth drop of the list for capped flights into the Capital cities? I guess this explains how they were able to launch their BNE flights year round 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 356

Perth were not dropped off the list. Qatar got the number of flights allowed into Australia increased.

11 Apr 2018

Total posts 13

bring it, hoping it will open some more reward seats for international travel

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 441

I was surprised they made Adelaide and Auckland a combined service for the Asia/Pacific region.They were daily from memory when I went to Europe in 2018.what I loved about Qatar is it allowed me a full day of work then to get home in time to get ready for the trip.coming home it might have meant some crazy o clock schedule but I returned 5pm into Australia whereas say Singapore Airlines from Munich had me going through Singapore and Melbourne(connecting and transferring to Virgin)taking a whopping 10 hours more.

05 Jan 2021

Total posts 17

Great to see more Qatar flights - maybe a chance of scoring business class reward seats via my Qantas points - not sure we should hold our breath though knowing how stingy Qantas is !


03 May 2013

Total posts 655

Unless it's in an A380/A350 I wont be touching Qatar anymore. Qsuites or not, the 777 is a horrible plane to fly in that long haul sector.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 73

Bring it on! Competition never hurt the customer. Only hurts Alan Joyce. Fancy running around with the excuses about why fares are so high and planes so full, yet objecting to some way to alleviate those issues. 

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qatar Airways wants to “double flights to Australia”