Qatar Airways carried more than 36,000 passengers to and from Australia in the first two weeks of April, as it capitalises on being one of the last airlines flying regular international routes.
Worldwide, the business has taken more than 1 million passengers home since mid-February.
Both Qantas and Virgin cancelled all international trips at the end of March, though are undertaking a handful of chartered and government underwritten routes.
The new figures, obtained by Australian Aviation, reveal Qatar carried 4,474 to Australia, and 32,000 from Australia, from 27 March to 13 April.
It comes despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison advising Australians to avoid “non-essential” overseas travel, and all arrivals being asked to spend two weeks in a hotel room to stem the spread of coronavirus.
The numbers have likely been fuelled by temporary visa holders returning back to their countries of origin after the government refused to allow them access to either JobSeeker or JobKeeper benefits.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker, said, “The entire team at Qatar Airways has worked incredibly hard to take people home over the past few weeks.
“We have built a strong level of trust with our passengers, governments, travel trade and cargo businesses as a reliable partner when we were needed the most and we continue to offer a schedule where possible and allowed by governments.”
Qatar Airways has used its stance to launch a PR and marketing offensive under the tagline of “taking passengers home”.
Australian Aviation earlier reported that Qatar Airways Cargo began freighter flights to and from the country due to strong demand for the nation’s pharmaceuticals and fresh produce during the COVID-19 crisis.
The twice-weekly journeys to Melbourne and Perth, with a tech stop at Singapore, added 200 tonnes of main deck cargo capacity each week, each way.
Previously, the airline operated belly-hold services.
The airline also added an extra 48,000 seats on passenger services from Doha to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane from 29 March until mid-April.
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