Qatar Airways pushes back new Canberra flights

The Australian capital now won’t see Qatar’s return until early December.

By David Flynn, September 30 2022
Qatar Airways pushes back new Canberra flights
Executive Traveller exclusive

Qatar Airways is putting the brakes on its planned return to Canberra, with the Canberra-Melbourne-Doha route suspended just days before the first flight was due to take off on Saturday October 1.

The daily Canberra service will now start on December 2, with QR989 departing the Australian capital at 1pm for the quick trip to Melbourne – where, after a two-hour stopover, it will be wheels-up at 4.15pm for the long 14½-hour trek to Qatar’s Doha hub.

Qatar Airways confirmed the move in a statement to Executive Traveller, saying “due to operational reasons we have delayed the start of our Canberra services.”

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to passengers who are currently booked to travel on QR988 and QR989 to and from Canberra,” an airline spokesperson said.

“All passengers will be provided with alternative travel arrangements and will be assisted to ensure smooth onward connections to their final destination.”

In the October-to-December interim, Qatar’s website suggests connecting flights from Canberra to Melbourne with Qantas and Virgin Australia (the airline is in the unique position of being a partner to both), alongside flights from Canberra to Sydney and Brisbane so as to dovetail into Qatar’s evening flights from those cities.

The airline’s second daily Melbourne-Doha flight will still proceed from October 1, with the late afternoon departure of QR989 complementing the evening QR905 service at 10.20pm.

Both flights are on a Boeing 777 outfitted with Qatar Airways’ widely-acclaimed business class Qsuites.

Canberra first landed on the airline’s network map in 2018 as an add-on leg for a second Sydney service, before being scrapped in 2020.

This article has been updated from an earlier version to reflect Qatar Airways’ rescheduling the start of Canberra flights from October 1 to December 2, 2022.

Melbourne goes from strength to strength

The twice-daily flights to Melbourne recognise what Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker notes as “the original home for Qatar Airways in Australia.”

“The launch of the additional daily flight to Melbourne ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will allow more football fans travel to attend their respective matches.”

The 2022 FIFA World Cup takes place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.

“Qatar Airways is already a favourite with passengers heading to the Middle East or Europe, and given their partnerships with both Virgin Australia and Qantas, we expect these new flights will prove very popular,” added Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus.

Qatar’s post-pandemic playbook has seen the A380 superjumbo return to Sydney and from December 6, Perth – alongside daily year-round flights to Brisbane and an Auckland-via-Adelaide service.

As previously reported, a fresh loyalty pact between Qatar Airways Privilege Club and Accor ALL will see members of both rewards programs enjoy the ability to ‘double-dip’ on points and take a fast track to the top status tiers for the airline and hotel group.

Qatar is also set to launch “a market-leading proposition for business travellers… between Australia, the Middle East and Europe” in concert with Virgin Australia.

08 Mar 2018

Total posts 8

In breaking news, I was verbally advised by Qatar this morning that operations into and out of Canberra have now been “suspended indefinitely”. 

We are booked from Canberra for to London in mid October and received a flurry of emails overnight about flight cancellations and changes. 

Apparently now we need to find our own way to and from Melbourne to make the flight to London (same for return journey). No compensation for that, or for the hotel in Melbourne we will need because the Doha flight arrives so late into Melbs.  

And even if we do that, our MEL-DOH leg (and return leg) is now unconfirmed, presumably while they reshuffle. The only confirmed part of our flight is DOH-LHR (return). 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 530

Sorry to hear. Sounds like a rather shabby treatment of a pax who gave them a vote of confidence 

Would be interested to see how they treated those due to flight out on 1 Oct in 2 days time

08 Mar 2018

Total posts 8

Right? These decisions aren’t taken overnight. 

And, despite QA’s claim in the above article, we’ve once again been advised they will not fly us to Melbourne on Virgin to meet the flight to London (or home again). 

SpT
SpT

29 Sep 2022

Total posts 2

I'm due to fly on the 2nd Oct and got no help other than an offer to refund my whole trip.

SpT
SpT

29 Sep 2022

Total posts 2

I am booked this weekend coming and certainly there was very little assistance provided other than make your own way to Melbourne or cancel your flights. Now driving to Melbourne the day before, and staying in a hotel. Haven't worked out my return arrangements which are a little tricky given the flight arrives into Melbourne after 11pm.

“All passengers will be provided with alternative travel arrangements and will be assisted to ensure smooth onward connections to their final destination.”

Would have been appreciated had it been offered, all I got was 'do you want to cancel or travel from Melbourne?' when I called last night. Took the lady I spoke to an hour to work out there was nothing she could do to help except refund my whole trip.

JJ1
JJ1

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 18

Hello Fossy, This is most certainly a disappointing response from Qatar Airways. I am aware of a similar situation with someone whereby Qatar Airways changed the schedule and advised my colleague to find their own way to Sydney. Through persistence (and possible suggestion of referal to the consumer authorities) that Qatar reneged and booked them on a flight to Sydney to ger them to the UK arriving as planned. I guess it can't hurt to "put your foot down" and insist that they do something about it. Either that or call their bluff and suggest you will cancel it as they can't provide what you purchased. I don't think they'd like the idea of having to refund the fare.

08 Mar 2018

Total posts 8

JJ1, thanks for the info. We snapped up the release fares, which are now selling for around $17k. Unfortunately it would be in QA’s interest if we cancelled because they could then resell our J seats for much more than we paid. 

02 Jun 2013

Total posts 52

I believe the CBR tag was required to meet overall capacity restrictions into the major airports (ie by flying to CBR they could increase frequencies). Does this mean the Australian Government have relaxed these restrictions/increased QR’s allowed capacity? 

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 94

I was thinking exact same thing! Unless government has changed rules they have to fly to secondary port to get extra flights! Haven't heard of any change!!!! Will be interesting to see what happens.

10 May 2019

Total posts 3

I have heard that the second Melbourne flight will route via Adelaide to and from Doha thereby utilising a secondary airport to avoid having to obtain a Australian Government capacity increase. I'm not sure how this will affect the current Doha to Auckland via Adelaide route.

A friend who works at Melbourne Airport tells me that the flight will now be extended to and from Adelaide but onoy for cargo, not passengers. Makes sense as QR already has an ADL-DOH direct and not having passengers means there's no need for cabin crew, loading f&b etc, so QR can just focus on picking up extra cargo for the 777's belly. Smart move.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1034

A DOH-ADL-AKL route would be up to NZ. The AU limits don't apply to ADL, so as long as they have AU-NZ traffic rights, AU Gov won't care.

29 Sep 2022

Total posts 1

Like others in this thread, our experience gave lie to the PR puff response. No forward booking Melbourne to Canberra offered despite being booked in business in the highest fare bucket - and we are now stuck in Melbourne overnight due to late arrival. 

Incredibly poor bait and switch by Qatar

JJ1
JJ1

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 18

With only 2 days to go before the relaunch of flights from Canberra you would be forgiven for thinking that Qatar Airways would have some sense of responsibility in getting their customers to another Australian gateway to get them to their destinations. It's not as if they made this change many months out giving affected passengers access to cheaper domestic fares - and during school holidays when fares are invariably much dearer. For an airline that's rated so highly in surveys, I can imagine and understand why people would be so unhappy with this situation.

23 May 2012

Total posts 51

The QR Trade info we got states that for flights between 1 October and 30 November the following connecting options apply and can be rebooked:

QF: via BNE/MEL/SYD/ADL/PER-CBR v.v. in economy in the following fare classes: V or S or N

VA: via BNE/MEL/SYD-CBR v.v. in economy in the following fare classes: P or Q or I (CBR-SYD also allowed on Link Airways on behalf of VA.

I hope this helps.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

26 Apr 2019

Total posts 7

I was booked to fly into Canberra on Tuesday 25 October.  Now being dumped at Melbourne airport on Monday 24 October at around 10.30pm.  The comment quoted "All passengers will be provided with alternative travel arrangements will be assisted to ensure smooth onward connections to their final destination" is complete and absolute BS. We booked this through a corporate travel agent and his comment has been "The Qatar reps have gone crickets on voice and emails". They've effectively taken the money and wiped their hands of the issue that they alone have caused. I'm well used to travel plans going awry, but it's remarkable that an airline can do this.  It's almost a case of "Well, we got you within the same generic region....only 800km away from what you'd paid for....close enough is good enough."

08 Mar 2018

Total posts 8

We have spent much of today on the phone to QA, either on hold or being shunted between associates. Whilst very polite, it was made clear to us that we had to make our own way to and from Melbourne. As for being offloaded in Melbourne at 23:00 after our return flight from London, with no flights to Canberra until the next morning, we were advised we’d be welcome in the lounge for as long as it was open (it closes at midnight). We decided to cancel and we’ve rebooked J to London next March with SQ (a few fares available at the moment for $6.5k)

05 Oct 2022

Total posts 1

I have recently been informed by Qatar Airlines that the final leg of my return flight MEL-CBR has been cancelled. Last week I flew out out of Canberra on a virgin flight on route to Europe but on my return will be standed in Melbourne at midnight. After complaining to Qatar Airline they peddled the line that they take no responsibility as it is within the terms and condition of the ticket. The whole way over the airline were banging on about being the world's #1 airline. Not too sure about that. Hopefully they are still flying into Australia when I return.

TRW
TRW

07 Oct 2022

Total posts 1

I was one of the unfortunate bunnies who had their connection from Melbourne to Canberra ditched by Qatar Airways for my return travel from Berlin to CBR on Saturday 1st Oct – what was supposed to be the first flight on this new route from Doha to CBR.

Two days prior to departure, the first of a series of ambiguous emails were received which didn’t actually say the MEL-CBR leg had been cancelled, rather, that there were changes and I should contact my travel agent. I rang QA who refused to give me any information because my original booking was through Qantas.

After an hour on hold, I finally got through to Qantas who advised QA had arbitrarily decided not to fly the final MEL-CBR leg, and my only option for getting to CBR was to book a new flight from MEL, or, cancel and rebook the whole flight schedule from Berlin. No offer to cover costs was given.

The quote from Qatar Airways in the article above is a lie. “All passengers will be provided with alternative travel arrangements and will be assisted to ensure smooth onward connections to their final destination.”

As I had always needed to be in CBR on 3rd Oct I had no alternative but to book a new MEL-CBR flight, with the only affordable option being 6:05am departure. ‘Overnight accommodation’ was also necessary as the incoming flight to MEL was scheduled to arrive at 10:05pm. The flight was delayed about an hour, so in the end I had about 4 hours sleep before heading back to the airport for the flight to CBR.

I made the BER to CBR booking in July. The contempt with which QA has treated customers who have made travel plans months in advance is unbelievable. It seems passengers are just numbers in seats, not real people who have to endure significant disruption to their lives when decisions such as this are made with little or no warning.

A very, very poor first encounter with Qatar Airways for me! 

03 Nov 2022

Total posts 1

Looks like they are pulling the pin on Canberra completely- flights booked for next March have more had the Canberra to Melbourne leg cancelled. As others have noted, nothing offered  to replace that leg


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