In preparation for the FIFA Soccer World Cup in November, Qatar Airways will increase its daily service between Doha and Melbourne from one to two.
A “strategic arrangement” between the Victoria government and the Doha-based carrier has enabled the latter to increase its presence in Melbourne as part of initiatives to promote post-pandemic trade and tourism.
Until recently, a restrictive air services agreement between Australia and the state of Qatar severely limited the number of flights that Qatar Airways could fly to and from Australia, with Melbourne being the airline’s first stop in that country.
Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, Qatar Airways was only permitted to fly to Australia on a weekly basis 21 times. Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, was quite upset about the cap and how UAE rivals Emirates and Etihad Airways received a larger allocation.
Despite the fact that both airlines were part of the Oneworld alliance, the perceived inequality led to a dispute between Qatar Airways and Qantas since the latter refused to support an increase in the number of weekly flights for the Qatari airline.
This was due, in part, to the strategic partnership Qantas had established with Emirates.
While other airlines like Qantas, Emirates, and Etihad grounded their aircraft during the pandemic, Qatar Airways was able to win over the Australian government by continuing to run flights there at a loss.
For the first time, Qatar Airways was permitted to operate flights to Brisbane, and it now serves Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney in addition to the other five Australian gateways.
“Melbourne is the original home for Qatar Airways in Australia, and we are excited to enhance our operations there, as a testament to both strong demand and our deep commitment to Australia,” commented Akbar Al Baker on Thursday.
“The launch of the additional daily flight to Melbourne ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ will allow more football fans to travel to attend their respective matches,” Al Baker continued.
But given that Qatar Airways is being compelled to halt up to 20 routes in order to make room for its World Cup services, the timing of the new flight’s start is intriguing.
The additional trip will fly a triangular route from Doha to Melbourne, then on to Canberra, before making a stop in Melbourne on the way back to Doha. The flight will be flown by a Boeing 777-300.
There will be 40 weekly trips between Doha and Australia when the new flights begin flying on October 1.