Qatar Airways is ramping up its direct flights to Brisbane to a daily schedule from March 1, matching the airline’s daily roster for Sydney and Melbourne while also running three flights a week to Adelaide and Perth.
The Queensland capital will see a Boeing 777-300ER fitted with the highly-regarded Qsuites business class departing seven days a week at 10.10pm, with its 5.45am arrival into Doha lining up with Qatar’s morning wave of onwards flights to Europe and the UK, Africa and India.
And while the Gulf carrier’s flights between Doha and Brisbane have been operating on a temporary basis, the airline hopes to permanently add Brisbane to its extensive network, based in part on its ongoing support of flights to and from Australia throughout the pandemic.
“I hope that the government will rethink the request of Qatar Airways, keeping in mind that we were the only foreign carrier that was dedicated, even at a time that we were making losses on the route, to keep on connecting Australia to the outside world Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has told Executive Traveler.
“Even though there were capacity restrictions and frequency restrictions, we continued our operations to serve the people of Australia, so our commitment was there not only in good times but also in bad times.”
Qatar Airways has formally requesting what it terms “a reasonable increase” to its Australian traffic rights, allowing for year-round Brisbane flights without sacrificing services to other Australian cities. Currently, the airline can run 21 weekly return flights from Doha to its choice of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.
Another obstacle is the Government’s decree that Qatar’s second daily Doha-Sydney service must extend to Canberra – an odd and expensive arrangement which the carrier would prefer to drop entirely.
“The problem with Sydney is that if we fly the second daily frequency to Sydney, we have to extend it to Canberra” Al Baker explained.
“That is very uneconomical for us, because we also have to leave the aircraft there for an extended period of time, so this is a very big financial drain – and we have no other alternative because we can only operate two flights to Sydney if we extend one to Canberra.”
Another factor in Qatar’s favor for continued flights to Brisbane is that Etihad Airways confirmed in October 2020 that it would no longer fly to the Queensland capital even after the pandemic shockwave subsides.
Brisbane was one of several “underperforming” destinations culled from Etihad’s network, in a decision the airline described as “a commercial one” made “as part of an ongoing review”.
As a member of the Oneworld alliance, Qantas Frequent Flyers can collect a modest amount of Qantas points and status credits on every QR flight.
However, the more often you fly with Qatar Airways, especially in business class, joining the airline’s own Privilege Club loyalty program could prove worthwhile, especially as Privilege Club Platinum members traveling in Qatar Airways’ business class enjoy access to the exclusive Al Safwa first class lounge during their stopover in Doha.