Qatar Airways wants to double service to Australia but is facing strong opposition from Qantas, which wants to protect its own turf, and its partner Emirates.
Qatar Airways Wants To Double Service To Australia, But Not If Qantas (And Emirates) Can Help It
Qantas and Qatar Airways are both members of the oneworld alliance, but Qantas has a much stronger partnership with Emirates. Their codeshare relationship has established the Emirates as the preferred Gulf airline in a nation in which Qantas holds a tremendous advantage as the entrenched flag carrier. In fact, the intra-alliance relationship between Qatar and Qantas is so poor that Qatar recently partnered with Virgin Australia.
As the FIFA World Cup approaches and demand for travel to and from Australia remains resilient, Qatar Airways wants to double its service to the land down under.
Appearing on Sky News, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker asserted he wants to be “the alternative” to Qantas in Australia.
“The largest operator in Australia has cut its flight to 50 percent of pre-Covid level, more than doubled the price of the fares to the Australian people in the benefit of the shareholders. In addition, getting billions of dollars of state aid during the pandemic period in 20 and 21.
“And at the same time, even their large international partner has also cut flights to only 50 percent to pre-Covid levels. While we are offering an alternative to the Australian people who we always like to serve.”
Qatar Airways has a problem, though. There is no Open Skies Treaty between Australia and Qatar, so the carrier operates via a bilateral treaty with Australia. Currently, the agreement calls for Qatar’s flights to Melbourne (MEL) to operate via Canberra (CBR), a move meant to ensure connectivity to Australia’s capital city (and also likely a move to insulate Qantas at its Melbourne hub). But Qatar Airways has flaunted that obligation and operated to Melbourne nonstop from Doha.
On this basis, Qantas is objecting to Australia allowing Qatar Airways to increase its service…and it has a good chance of prevailing. By skirting its treaty obligations, Qatar is making it very difficult for Australian authorities to approve additional service. That’s a shame because more competition would be a force for good in the market and Qatar Airways, with its high-quality onboard product, would particularly increase competition on key routes.
Qatar Airways wants to dramatically expand its service to Australia, but Qantas is strongly opposed and by default so is Emirates, which currently enjoys feeder flights from Qantas. Qatar Airways has not helped its case by failing to abide by its bilateral treaty, but there is no denying an increased presence in the market would benefit consumers.
Not quite right.
The *second* DOH-MEL flight (QR988/989) has to go via a secondary Australian airport. Originally this was to be a tag flight to Canberra, but QR started this month operating an add on flight without passengers to and from Adelaide instead (DOH-MEL-ADL-MEL-DOH), fulfilling the bilateral obligations.
Reminds me about the time DL and KE basically had this relationship despite both being in SkyTeam. The relationship got so bad that you couldn’t earn miles on KE if you were part of DL’s Skymiles or earn miles on KE’s Skypass on DL flights, and KE partnered with AA and AS and reciprocated mileage earnings. They slowly fixed things out and it led to a JV in 2018.
If both sides are willing to make a few concessions, they can work things out just like KE and DL.
Certainly at the present time there is nothing competitive about Qatar fares from Europe to anywhere. I remain to be convinced that allowing them greater access to Australia would improve anything for anyone except Qatari citizens and in any event, Al-Baker is short of aircraft to operate anything additional until he gets over his A350 invented problems and grows up.
I was recently quoted a $31,000 business class fare for November travel from ORD to OTP via DOH. I expect QR’s pricing will come back down to earth post-World Cup.
QR offers a superior J product to QF and EK. More service the better, IMO.
The Australians have been exceedingly protectionist for many years about any airline that could potentially threaten Qantas on the international front. It’s pretty tasteless but not unexpected.
Except of course Australia has open skies with Singapore… home of an exceptional airline.
Qantas abandoned international travellers during the 2 years of Covid, while Qatar continued daily flights to all Australian capitals. Qantas doesn’t even service ADL international travel routes whereas Qatar does. Qatar prices are more than competitive with Qantas and their seats and service are vastly better. I think the Australian government should be best serving Australians not a company that claims to be our flag-carrier, but dropped their responsibility for 2 years.
Yep, Qatar decided to keep flying for charity reasons…not to make a quid.
While Adelaide is great and all, it has such a small market. You can probably thank the Australian Government for Qatar flying there as there are no restrictions on Qatar flying to Adelaide, whereas they are capped into Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.