Qantas dodges Dubai Airport's new passenger tax

By Chris C., April 1 2016
Qantas dodges Dubai Airport's new passenger tax

Dubai International Airport is set to reap over $1 billion per year from a new passenger tax, but travellers on Qantas flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London will be exempt from the levy.

The 35 UAE Dirham (A$12.45) 'service fee' will apply to passengers departing from or transiting through the massive airport and will be collected by airlines, which are expected to pass the cost directly onto passengers as part of the ticket cost.

Dubai expects to see 86 million passengers in 2016, which will translate into an estimated A$1.07 billion in annual revenue for what is now the world's busiest airport for international passengers.

However, a quirk in the new rules means that Qantas passengers on the Kangaroo Route between Australia and London will escape the tax.

That’s because multi-stop journeys taken on a single flight number – such as QF1 and QF9 from Australia to London, and their QF2 and QF10 return legs - don't count as a 'transit' fligh, merely one which happens to stop in Dubai.

However, the tax will apply if you're changing between a Qantas and Emirates flight – for example, jetting from Melbourne to Dubai on QF2 and then onwards to another destination with Emirates – or of course ending your journey in Dubai.

Passengers flying through the UAE’s Abu Dhabi International Airport with Virgin Australia, Etihad and other airlines aren’t affected by this new tax, which applies solely to the Dubai hub.

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2015

Total posts 123

This is a surprising move. Taxing passengers on the point of entry has been trialled in other countries and usually resulted in airlines taking capacity out of these ports and a drop in passenger numbers (i.e. Ireland until the last couple of years.) It's not really a good idea as it almost never compensates for the loss in revenue due to a drop in passenger numbers. Especially in the Middle East, where passengers have a choice of connecting through Abu Dhabi or Doha and Istanbul to a certain extent from Australia. I guess we'll see how it plays out from Dubai. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 681

OK, I understand now why my earlier question disappeared - well, sort of LOL.

Chris, I guess you've spoken with QF directly about this, given there was no information on either the QF or EK websites when I asked it.

One question that I have on the following text from your story:

"Qantas, Emirates and all other airlines flying through Dubai will collect this tax as part of the normal booking process, rather than travellers having to fork over dirhams as they depart."

As I understand the new tax, it is retrospective for all bookings for travel from July 01, 2016 for bookings made from March 2016 onwards. Does that mean that QF will absorb the tax for any March bookings or will these be manually collected (either at check-in or on arrival into DXB) ?

What I'm amazed at, is that this tax is also being levied on 'transit' passengers.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2482

Hi kimshep, the web address of your Q&A post was merged with this article as it hadn't received any responses and mentioned only what we were covering this afternoon as news, so this was done to keep all discussion on the topic in the one place.

If you have any concerns regarding existing bookings, your best bet is to contact Qantas directly as this isn't something the airline has clarified and won't apply to most passengers on solely Qantas-operated flights.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 681

Many thanks Chris.I can give QF a yell on it.

Air New Zealand - NZ*E

17 May 2015

Total posts 94

Another tax on travel through Dubai - I seem to remember a tourism tax on hotel rooms that started a couple of years ago...


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1426

This is a fairly unremarkable story. Airports charge user fees through airline charges. Now this can be on the per head basis or gross weight basis and the like and this is passed on to the customer. We are not told all the time the finer dretails of these charges but they are there. I cannot see anyone leaving EK to the other ME players  on this basis ($12 really) and it will be buried in the 'other taxes and charges' that appears on tickets. Someone has to pay for the new Al Makhtoum airport and it may as well be the user of the current one so they can build a bigger and better one.   

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 681

I tend to disagree, patrickk.

First off, it applies to 'Transit' passengers and that in itself is unusual.

Secondly, it is not a single, once-off hit for most passengers. If you are travelling XXX-DXB-YYY and the returning, you will be 'hit' multiple times just for connecting. And then, if you choose to stop over in DXB, you'll be hit again on departure as well.

Regrettably, the Emirate Of Dubai's website is not necessarily clear on how this is applied, in terms of the pre-arrival sector into their airports. It is however abundantly clear in terms of passengers originating DXB/DWC and transiting pax (thru vs change of flight number).

Point is .. if you are travelling say SYD-DXB-FRA and FRA-DXB-SYD (thru trip but with change of flight nbr / aircraft) you will be charged at least twice. Choose to stop over in DXB on the same trip for a couple of days and you could be charged again.

So we are talking about more than AUD $12.50 - more usually, we'll be talking about AUD $25.00 or more, depending on how / where you are traveling.

Also, this new tax is not being used just for paying for DWC. It will also contribute to paying off debt incurred with various terminal enhancements at DXB.

Given that EY & QR are close (with limitations) to mimmicking EK's network, I would see that with the imposition of this tax - which may add $25-$50 to the fare .. it may be gifting both DOH and/or AUH some unexpected traffic.

What I think it might do though is to completely kill off all flights between AUH and DOH to DXB. I wouldn't be surprised to see a coach service being offered on these routes.

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 272

Maybe the QF numbers that QF uses for Emirates flight can all be one number as well so that when connecting in DXB, you can avoid the tax?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2013

Total posts 134

QF mustn't be happy considering all the increased competition this year. LHR and HEL the only QF options to Europe to avoid it now. 

05 Dec 2013

Total posts 36

Hi Chris, you have written 'Dubai expects to see 86 million passengers in 2016, which will translate into an estimated A$1.07 billion in annual revenue for what is now the world's busiest airport'.  Isn't Atlanta the World's busiest Airport by overall passenger numbers?   I think you mean that Dubai is the world's busiest airport by international passengers?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2482

Hi hwle, this has been clarified in the article, cheers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 681

Chris, I would also question the headline of "Qantas dodges Dubai Airport's new passenger tax."

Certainly, QF pax on QF 1/9 to LHR and the return LHR-SYD/MEL QF 2/10 will aviod the tax, provided they travel through to/from London, without a stopover.

With a stopover or transit (except thru) in DXB on these services, I am led to believe that these pax will attrax the tax. Further, those on QF 1/9 who change aircraft and flight numbers in DXB will be similar hit - and possibly multiple times.

If QF's JVA with EK is hitting it's targets (as QF leads us to believe) of delivering passengers to points in Europe without doing the LHR backtrack, then I would see a reasonable percentage of QF-1/9 or 2/10 passengers being hit up for this tax on each flight number / destination change in DXB. Comment?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2482

Hi kimshep, we're happy with our headline for the reasons indicated within the article text, as its refers to Qantas passengers, not Emirates passengers or Qantas+Emirates passengers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 681

Chris, I appreciate your reply and that it is an AUSBT editorial decision. I also appreciate and accept your comment policy.

I note that the article text has been revised since its original appearance on Thursday and that the 'thu' element of the article gains slightly more prominence.

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