Qatar Airways has added a fifth Australian destination to its international network, with the inaugural flight to Canberra touching down on Monday morning.
Flight QR906, operated by Boeing 777-300ER A7-BEP, arrived at Canberra at about 0930 on Monday, after a short one-hour hop from Sydney that included a fly-past of the city prior to landing.
The aircraft, with Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker and other dignitaries on board, was greeted with an Airservices Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) monitor cross as it taxied to the terminal.
Canberra joins Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in the oneworld alliance member’s Australian network.
9News reporter Aggie Bradshaw posted a video of the aircraft arriving on Twitter
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Qatar Airways will serve Canberra as part of a Doha-Sydney-Canberra-Sydney-Doha routing, with the inaugural QF906 taking off from Doha just before 0800 local time on Sunday and landing in Sydney about 14 and a half hours later at a little after 0600 Monday morning.
Normally, QR906 is scheduled to have a 60-minute transit at Mascot. However, there appeared to be some delay with the service, as A7-BEP spent about two hours on the ground before taking off for the 128nm trip to Canberra.
Canberra Airport executive chairman Terry Snow welcomed the start of Qatar Airways’ services to the national capital.
“We appreciate Qatar Airways’ strong support for the nation’s capital,” Snow said in a statement on Monday.
“An airline of this stature will further boost Canberra’s reputation as a leading tourist destination, on the back of record numbers of international visitors coming in 2017, and Lonely Planet nominating the city a top three destination for 2018.”
The 777-300ER was scheduled to be on the ground for about four and a half hours in Canberra before operating the reciprocal QR907 to Doha, again via Sydney.
Qatar’s 777-300ERs feature 358 seats in a two-class configuration comprising 42 in business and 316 in economy.
The airline is Canberra Airport’s second international carrier.
Despite the start of Qatar Airways’ flights to Canberra, Singapore Airlines (SIA) remains the only carrier offering nonstop international services from the Australian capital, having commenced its four times weekly Singapore-Canberra-Wellington “Capital Express” offering with Boeing 777-200ERs in September 2016.
SIA will retain that distinction even after some network changes kick in from the start of May, when the airline drops its Canberra-Wellington tag flights and begins a triangular Singapore-Sydney-Canberra-Singapore routing daily with Boeing 777-300ER equipment.
Meanwhile, SIA planned to maintain flights to Wellington with a one-stop option from Singapore via Melbourne four days a week.