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Load factors, passenger numbers up on Qatar’s new Adelaide-Doha service

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 10, 2016

Qatar Airways flight QR914 touches down in Adelaide. (Seth Jaworski)
Qatar Airways’ inaugural flight QR914 touches down in Adelaide on May 3. (Seth Jaworski)

Qatar Airways has improved passenger numbers and average load factors on its new Adelaide-Doha service in June, after the route got off to a slow start in May, official figures show.

Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showed there were plenty of spare seats for passengers during the first month of Qatar Airways’ daily Adelaide-Doha flights, which began in early May.

An analysis of the monthly BITRE report and flight tracking data shows Qatar carried 1,728 passengers on its inbound Doha to Adelaide flights in the month of May. Given the oneworld alliance member operated 30 flights on the route in May and its A350-900s were configured with 283 seats (36 business and 247 economy), that translated to an average load factor of 20.4 per cent.

The reciprocal Adelaide-Doha service fared better, with 4,825 passengers carried for an average load factor of 56.8 per cent.

There was an improvement in June, however, with the BITRE figures showing Qatar flew 3,034 passengers to Adelaide for an average load factor of 35.7 per cent, while there were 6,045 passengers on the outbound Adelaide-Doha flight, which translated into an average load factor of 71.2 per cent.


Adelaide became the fourth Australian port for Qatar alongside Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, which kicked off in March 2016.

The improvement on the Adelaide route, Australia’s first scheduled A350 passenger service, in June helped lift Qatar’s overall load factors in June to 60.5 per cent inbound and 89.1 per cent outbound, compared with 48.9 per cent and 83.8 per cent, respectively, in May.

Qatar had offered very attractive promotional fares for its Adelaide service prior to its launch, with the airline’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker telling reporters after the inaugural flight touched down he expected yields to improve and fares to rise once the route was more established.

Also, Al Baker told The Australian he was committed to Adelaide even if the route didn’t turn a profit.

“In our industry, it’s not always profit from a destination. We are a network carrier and we always look at the network contribution,” Al Baker told the newspaper.

“We wouldn’t be coming here if there was no network contribution.

“Any new route will lose in the first year or two, but airlines should always be prepared when they are growing to lose.

“We invest in new routes and this is an investment for the growth of Qatar networks as a network carrier. Qatar Airways never withdraws from a market as long as we have a positive network contribution.

“We always come to a destination to stay long term.”

Qatar planned to reduce its daily Adelaide flights to five times a week between late October 2016 and March 2017.

Speaking on the sidelines of the recent CAPA – Centre for Aviation Australia Pacific Aviation summit in Brisbane, Qatar Airways senior vice president for aeropolitical and corporate affairs Fathi Atti declined to comment specifically on the commercial performance of the route.

However, Atti noted that all new routes took a period of time to ramp up and he expressed confidence Adelaide would perform well for the airline.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s regional rivals Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline have also suffered a drop in average load factors over the past year.

Emitates’ services to Australia had an average load factor of 63.8 per cent in June, while it was 76 per cent for the Qantas alliance partner’s outbound flights from this country, the BITRE figures showed. This compared with 70.8 per cent inbound and 80.4 per cent outbound in June 2015.

Etihad’s flights to Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney from its Abu Dhabi hub were 56.6 per cent full in June 2016, the BITRE report said, down from 70 per cent in the same month a year earlier, while average load factors on its outbound flights were at 84.5 per cent, compared with 95.6 per cent in June 2015.

The figures highlighted the competitive nature of the international travel market, particularly for flights to Europe through mid-point hubs in Asia and the Middle East as airlines added new capacity and launched new routes. Figures from earlier in 2016 suggested airfares in Australia were at multi-decade lows.

As an example, Virgin Australia shareholder and alliance partner Etihad recently had a $999 sale fare for flights from its four Australian ports to Abu Dhabi, while Skyteam alliance member Vietnam Airlines offered return fares to Europe for less than $1,000.

Book a flight to Abu Dhabi with Etihad cause they’re only $999 return

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Comments (10)

  • Natasha stedler thao Germany


    I love akbar al baker, he is the man

  • Kim


    Thankyou Qatar for supplying additional competition for International flights from Adelaide. Looking forward to trying out in May/June 2017.

  • Ian Budenberg


    With SQ, MH and CX offering Asia-friendly schedules from Adelaide which result in very long layovers for Europe-bound pax, Emirates and Qatar are the best options. But the old B777s with Emirates with the dreaded ten-abreast in economy and really tight seven-abreast in business are no competition at all for the A350 from Qatar with nine-abreast and just four-abreast respectively. Qatar will gain quickly in this market as word spreads of the far superior offering.

  • franz chong


    Have not flown them yet but would love to at some point should I get around to doing another Europe trip again.

  • Brett


    I have flown on both the Emirates 777 and Qatar A350 services to Adelaide and the Qatar A350 is simply the more comfortable option. The service on-board the Qatar flight was impeccable and when added to the benefit of transiting Hamad International and not Dubai, it certainly makes Qatar worthwhile of consideration.

  • Michael


    I’m looking forward to flying the A350 from Adelaide to Europe return later this year. I’ll be trying the QR’s A359, A332 & B788. I can’t really say that Qatar had a great marketing campaign (certainly not targeted at me) from when they announced flights to ADL. Emirates advertising is everywhere in Adelaide even though they are more expensive. Good luck to Qatar in Adelaide.

  • franz chong


    I have done the Singapore through to London thing before some years back and it’s great for a stop either direction on Singapore Airlines but the thought of six to eight hours at their airport versus the shorter stopovers that Qatar offer via Doha You would have to unless you have a frequent flyer membership in Virgin Australia Velocity and need the SIA points be a fool to choose them over a middle eastern carrier and their connections.

  • Geoff


    A great airline with the best available aircraft. This service will prevail handsomely. The pax numbers will keep building as this winning combination continues.

    According to Mr Al Baker, the next Australian destination will be Perth. Maybe the plan will be double daily from Doha at same stage, 2017?

    The delivery rate for the A350 is rising as Airbus rectifies its subcontractor issues. 35 deliveries plus one any day thus far in 2016 out of 50 targeted.

  • Brent


    @Geoff – noting that Qatar can’t launch any additional flights into the big 4 Australian airports unless a new Australia – Qatar air services agreement is signed. And as a new one was only completed to allow Qatar to launch Sydney, I can’t see it happening in the short term.

    In any case, should they gain those additional rights, it’d nearly a sure thing that Brisbane is launched.

  • Geoff


    Thanks Brent. Yes at …..some stage when extended Bi-laterals are established. The need exists.

    Brisbane will be served as will be AKL.

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