Qatar Airways plans Canberra flights

By Chris Chamberlin, November 29 2016

UPDATE | Qatar Airways will begin daily flights from Canberra via Sydney to Doha from mid-February 2018, in a move which will also see Gulf carrier's Sydney-Doha route increase to a double-daily service. Read our latest story for full details.

PREVIOUS | Qantas partner Qatar Airways will add Canberra to its list of Australian destinations in 2017/18, bringing Australia's national capital its second international service.

The airline is yet to lock down a launch date for the new Canberra-Doha route, but Canberra Airport Managing Director Stephen Byron expects the service to launch between July 2017 and June 2018 as an evening departure from Canberra.

Speaking at a media conference in Canberra, Byron confirmed the flights would run non-stop to Doha without detouring via another Australian city, such as Adelaide, and tipped the flights would use "new-generation aircraft, most likely the (Airbus) A350."

Qatar Airways will also debut flights to Las Vegas, Dublin, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Medan, Tabuk and Yanbu during 2017/18.

"With today’s network announcement, we will be able to connect more people to more places than any other Gulf airline, and we will ensure our passengers will delight in the journey," said Qatar Airways Group CEO, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker.

Earlier this year, Qatar Airways launched Doha-Adelaide flights using its Airbus A350 aircraft and commenced daily service between Doha and Sydney using its flagship Airbus A380s, complete with first class.

The airline also links Doha with both Melbourne and Perth, but is unable to launch direct Brisbane-Doha flights under current international 'traffic right' agreements.

Canberra is slowly becoming a destination in its own right for international carriers, with Singapore Airlines launching Singapore-Canberra-Wellington flights in September, placing Canberra as a springboard between the Singaporean and New Zealand capitals.

Qatar Airways is a member of the global Oneworld airline alliance, allowing frequent flyers of airlines such as Qantas, Cathay Pacific and British Airways to earn and redeem frequent flyer points on their travels.

Also read: Your guide to transiting Doha's Hamad International Airport

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

To Canberra? Sounds like a 787-8 route capacity-wise, but they'd probably have to block off some Economy seats in order to make the return journey to DOH (especially when Doha is hot)..

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 127

Bring it on!  Had to check it wasn't April Fool's day when I saw this.  The new SQ flight, while very welcome, isn't especially well timed for European connections.  Mind you, I've chosen an 8 hour connection in Singapore on my next flight to CBR just to avoid that freakin bus and connection in Sydney...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

I had to check it wasn't April Fools either.
I mean - Tabuk, c'mon! It just goes to show that Qatar will fly to anywhere that has a runway.
But Canberra is tempting. I know there is a decent number of government employees, and I'm sure non government employees who will make use of it.
Maybe we are under estimating Qatar, perhaps they are getting in early before the tourist boom. You know, you can see Parliament house and Floriade and then go to Tabuk and enjoy a camel race.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

Brisbane must be wondering what they are doing wrong if Canberra and Tabuk have priority over them.

Qatar Airways

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 26

No bilateral capacity.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

I thought as much. Kind of silly isn't it when the airport isn't anywhere near capacity.

Qatar Airways

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 26

It's more to do with the deal between Australia and Qatar that governs where and how often airlines can fly. Given they're building a 2nd runway at Brisbane, there's obviously concerns over capacity, especially with the growth they will have forecasted over the next few years. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

I see the new runway as existing just to deal with the morning and afternoon rush. Surely outside outside of peak hours there is still plenty of slots left at Brisbane?

05 Sep 2011

Total posts 66

''I mean - Tabuk, c'mon!'' Really? It has a larger population than Canberra and is only a couple of hours from Doha. Sure they'll easily turn a profit on that route. Making money on the 14+ hour trek to Canberra seems less likely, although maybe the convenience and limited competition will help them.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

I agree, I'm not sure how they'll turn a $ but I'm sure the slot availability at Sydney might have something to do with it.
They may also use it as a 'technical stop' to fly onto NZ or Fiji or who knows where. As I say, if it has a runway then Qatar appear to be interested in flying there.
As for Tabuk they might make a $ out of flying military advisors and camel trainers flying there, but that will be about it.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1242

Nothing to do with slot availability. Qatar Airlines has rights to fly to Australia's big 4 cities (SYD, MEL, PER, BNE) 21 times each week. They have chosen to fly to SYD, PER & MEL. They are able to fly to Australian cities outside of these 4 as much as they want.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

I see it the other way - they have used up all of their rights so they have to target unconstrained airports such as ADL and Canberra, otherwise surely they would fly to Brisbane or put more flights into SYD?

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 952

Under the current air service agreement, QR is only allowed 21 flights/week between DOH and the 4 major AU hubs (PER/MEL/SYD/BNE) and unlimited elsewhere in AU.
Thus they can not fly daily to all 4 above ports.

However, the air service agreement allows QR to have another 7 flights/week to the 4 limited ports, provided said flights are to/via another port in Australia.
A DOH-CBR-BNE flight would be allowed under the current agreement on top of the daily nonstop flights to PER, SYD and MEL.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

Didn't know that! Thankyou very much.

British Airways - Executive Club

28 Mar 2014

Total posts 66

What a great 5th freedom flight that would be! :-)

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1242

Yes, but there is a difference between 'slots' and 'rights'

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Feb 2012

Total posts 31

I think that you will find that the average disposable income and Government/Business travel in Canberra is on par with many larger cities and government travel policies as they are, all will be able to take advantage of the premium business class product. The city has plenty of pax to fill this service and a few more.

28 May 2016

Total posts 128

I'll believe it when I see it- What ever happened to the AKL flight that they promised?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Jul 2015

Total posts 40

 5 February 2017, according to their press release.

05 Sep 2011

Total posts 66

AKL flights start next year, February I believe.

05 Dec 2011

Total posts 7

Hopefully the flight times will be better than the SQ service for travellers needing to get to Europe! The SQ flights are great for Singapore and for connections into Asia, but hopeless for mainland Europe flights!

08 Mar 2013

Total posts 28

Do you think they may extend the Adelaide service to Canberra. Making it a Doha-Adelaide-Canberra service? That may work.

28 May 2016

Total posts 128

The main idea of international flights from Canberra to to make 2-stop journeys become 1-stop journeys (E.G. CBR-MEL-DXB-LHR  to CBR-DOH-LHR). An DOH-ADL-CBR flight would remove this appeal and many potential customers would go back to transiting in the likes of MEL and SYD as they have better facilities for J pax than ADL.

14 Nov 2015

Total posts 30

Possibly.  I still think for many people getting off and back on to the same plane in 90 minutes at somewhere quiet like Adelaide is a much more attractive proposition than connecting in Sydney or Melbourne.  Even the smoothest Sydney/Melbourne transfer is a PITA. You have to take into account how easy Canberra is for Canberra residents.  If the flight times are right, you can leave work, go home, have dinner with the family, relax for a bit, head to the very small, quiet, efficient, and easy airport, get on the plane and go.  Connecting in SYD/MEL means leaving much earlier, anxiety about connecting, etc.  This is even more so on the return journey.

Anyway, all of this assumes a tag-on from ADL.  I'm not so sure, I think they're more likely to make ADL (say) 4 days a week and CBR 3 days a week on a more-or-less identical schedule.

Having the QF/VA duopoly also means even international tickets are generally a couple hundred dollars more expensive originating in CBR, so there may be a cost benefit too if Qatar prices their tickets in line with SYD/MEL tickets.

I'm generally skeptical about this route, how soon it will happen, what it will look like, how profitable it will be, but as a CBR resident with loads of QF points I'm waiting to eagerly take advantage.

12 Feb 2015

Total posts 86

Agree with most of your points, thelongroad. Others underestimate the amount of premium fare travel generated by government and the extent to which connection through Sydney and Melbourne is a problem. Canberra also has a population with relatively high incomes and a propensity for holiday travel. Qantas in particular charges outrageous international add-on fares if you try to book economy from Canberra to anywhere overseas. I have seen them advertise sale fares to LAX/SFO which are cheaper from ADL and PER than from CBR. So if QR charge fares for CBR-DOH similar to SYD/MEL-DOH, they will be on a winner.

Qatar Airways

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 26

It's interesting to note that a time when competition in the Australia market is high, prices are low (and they've already reduced ops on the Adelaide service), they're prepared to delve into Canberra. Unless they can deliver a big yield premium on this service and they have a serious stimulation package from the airport, I struggle to see how they can make this work. As for South America? They're going in whilst others are coming out, though they do have the advantage of the LATAM hook-up.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1138

LOL is this like when they announced they'd start service to AKL?

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 130

@fxdxdy. Regarding your comment about Brisbane 'wondering what there doing wrong', if Qatar Airways had the bilateral air agreements Brisbane would be near or at the top of their  'new route'. So there doing nothing wrong its just the air agreements!

02 Jun 2013

Total posts 46

I thought that Australia and Qatar had just (as in last week) signed a new bilateral providing QR with the additional access that they have been coveting for so long. I may be mistaken however.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 952

Australia and Qatar updated the air service agreement a year ago, increasing the allowance from 14 to 21 in October 2015. I had thought that would increase to 28 this October as the UAE and China agreements have had yearly increses, but it appears not.

11 Dec 2015

Total posts 87

So the obvious question I have is - will Qantas ever create an
International route from Canberra, and if so - where to?

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 952

If they did, AKL.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1242

Agreed. AKL would be most likely.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Aug 2014

Total posts 6

Would love to see QF CBR-AKL-LAX or SFO.  Now that QR will have the CBR - Asia/EU covered along with SIA, this means both camps' (Star Alliance and One World) loyalty members are covered.

However, still nothing to Nth America without having to go through SYD or MEL - As stated elsewhere in this thread, this is both a financial impost and an additional 3 hours or so onto the journey for Canberrans.

I'd much rather go through intl. departure at CBR and transit at AKL (and vice versa) than through SYD or MEL.

Qatar announced 15 new destinations for 2017 and not surprising until the  actual flight takes off. Easy to announce than to make it work. Too good to be true. 

16 Feb 2016

Total posts 30

Its within the range of a 788. so that craft would seem to fit well.  how about a tag on from DPS? the ADL tag could work where the plane flies DOH-ADL-CBR-DOH.  I wonder how many connections they currently have from ADL on the PM QF flight.

Initially 3-4pw would work.  heck maybe they extend the CBR service to AKL if they think the nonstop is not viable.  Incredible times!  I thought EK were primed to start CBR with their QF relationship

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1242

I think Emirates planes may just be too big for the Canberra... what's their smallest plane these days? 

I'd expect something from China to be next likely. Though Cathay is also traffic rights restrained... so perhaps they may see QR's move and get inspired. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

777s are there smallest now, being the 777-200 from memory. They said goodbye to their last A330 the other week and only have A380s and B777 now.
777s have come to Canberra before, such as when the queen last visited. I'm fairly sure a fully laiden 777 would have the performance to take off from Canberra.
But I think you're right, I can't see Emirates doing it any time soon, however, Emirates have Gazumped Qatar a few times by putting on flights to destinations Qatar have announced, Auckland being one example.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 952

CBR is fully cabable of handling anything up to 747 size.
"Its within the range of a 788."

In theory, with 242 passengers on board. Qatar's 787s have about 250 passengers though. In addition, Doha is a very hot airport and taking off from Doha would constitute a range penalty for the Eastbound leg. The westbound leg would also face a range penalty from the prevailing winds.

In theory a direct flight seems possible on a 787-8 but I am a little skeptical. I think it would require a payload restriction at least. 

FYI, we've updated the story following a media conference at Canberra Airport which revealed, among other things, that the aircraft type would most likely be an Airbus A350.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

Still hoping for the QR A350 to make an appearance at MEL. To compete with the EY, SQ, QF, EK planes, i'd have thought they'd direct it there first and use a 777 for Canberra where competition is only SQ in a 772. Wishful thinking perhaps!

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 89

Qatar are second behind Singapore to realise Australia is ripe for the plucking! Our own airlines don't care about anybody outside Sydney or Melbourne. Why not come here if you are not going to have any competition. Service the regional cities and you will be very popular. One day Qantas will realise that they have made a huge mistake ignoring the rest of the country! Air NZ are poised to announce routes to regional cities very soon. Good luck to these overseas airlines!

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 152

I wonder if QR's expansion in Australia and the signing of the Qatar/OZ bilateral will temp QF to consider QR as their partner to europe once the QF/EK agreement is up for renewal (end of '17?).  When QF first went into agreement with EK QR had a small footprint in Australia - MEL and PER.  They still do compared to EK but once CBR is up and running they will fly to five OZ cities, are part of OneWorld like Qantas and will probably be seen as a less dominant partner than EK.  QR's european network for feed is also not far behind EK.

I know from friends that work for QF that the QF management were furious when EK announced their sixth daily flight from DXB - LHR instead of pushing passengers across to their partner QF's DXB-LHR flights.  I think we know who pulls most of the strings in the EK/QF relationship and perhaps a QF/QR one could be a better fit.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 952

I thought that when the EK deal was announced. When QF was talking to EK, QR had just joined oneworld.

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 89

Anybody asked air north if they could start Canberra - Auckland? They and Jetgo seem to be only Australian airlines prepared to try new routes! Their embraers do have the range and they have international experience as fly Darwin  to Dili, East Timor. Somebody should grab all virgins embraers as they would be ideal for trans-Tasman flights from regional cities!

British Airways - Executive Club

28 Mar 2014

Total posts 66

I think this is an excellent strategy from QR.

CBR is a destination that has many affluent residents who would jump at the chance to fly oversas without transferring via SYD MEL BNE.

SQ caters for *A pax; QR is jumping on the ow wagon.

Good for them 

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 118

This is great news for Canberrans but also for those in southern NSW. My family loathes the journey up to Sydney, both in time and money (hotel the night prior).
I think the next logical route would be a winter sun holiday route from Canberra, somewhere like Fiji, it would be a winner. I appreciate the route to the south pacific operated in the past but times change, wealth, population and fuel efficiency would all support a return.

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