According to an article from Reuters, the Australian and Qatari governments have agreed to increase flight capacity between the Australia and the Gulf state by 50%, or an 7 extra flights per week.
Qatar Airways currently operate daily services using 777-200LR and 777-300ER aircraft to Melbourne and Perth, under the terms of the previous bilateral air services agreement. Effective immediately Qatar Airways now have the capacity to serve an additional Australian destination.
It’s widely tipped that Sydney would be the next logical destination however in previous years Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar al Baker has stated that Sydney is not an option due to over-capacity by existing Middle Eastern carriers and the airport’s curfew on flights arriving overnight.
Emirates currently operate 3 daily services between Dubai and Sydney, two of which are A380s. Qantas also have a daily A380 service between the two cities. Competitor Etihad operates two daily services along with a third service which operates on alternate days with Virgin Australia to Abu Dhabi.
Current Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb made comments back in February citing a requirement for an increase in capacity between the two countries to allow for a route between Doha and Sydney, so it’s possible Qatar’s CEO has changed his mind on flying to Australia’s largest city.
Even though Qatar Airways is a fellow member of the oneworld alliance, the same global alliance that Qantas is a part of, they do not currently enter into any codeshare agreements. Qantas have a tight relationship with Emirates which presumably has an impact on that decision. Currently for services to Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane, Qatar Airways have opted to codeshare with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong, rather than entering into any agreement with Qantas for domestic flights.
A full list of Australia’s bilateral air service agreements can be seen here and it can make for some interesting reading if you’re interested in that sort of thing. One of the most significant recent changes came in January with a three-fold increase on seat capacity between Australia and China.
Whilst Sydney is a logical choice for Qatar Airways, it’s possible their objections to the route are still valid.
What are your predictions for Qatar Airways’ new Australian destination?