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Qatar surges to become top international carrier to Australia

written by Adam Thorn | June 15, 2020
Qatar Airways Airbus A380 A7-APE at Sydney Airport. (Sydney Airport)
Qatar Airways Airbus A380 A7-APE at Sydney Airport. (Sydney Airport)

Qatar Airways’ share of passengers travelling to and from Australia leapt from just 3 per cent to 44.5 per cent in April.

The jump meant the carrier, owned by the namesake state, is now by far the biggest in terms of passengers carried – with previous number one Qantas slumping from 17.9 per cent to just 2.9 per cent.

The independent figures, recently released by the Australian government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, appear to confirm statements from the airline itself that it’s now the world’s biggest.

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The business said in a statement last week, “While many airlines operating to Australia suspended operations, leaving people stranded, Qatar Airways added an additional 28 weekly flights (approximately 48,000 extra seats) on top of its regular 21 weekly flights during April to help take people home.

“During this period, the airline also launched its first flights to Brisbane, bringing the first A350-1000 to the river city’s airport.”

Qantas and Virgin virtually suspended all international operations at the end of March as the coronavirus pandemic caused nations to shut their borders.

However, at the start of April, the two carriers resumed limited international flights to Australia from London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Auckland after agreeing to a repatriation deal with the government.

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The subsidised services ran over four weeks and included freight capacity for imports and exports.

The financial package wasn’t enough to help it compete with Qatar though, which topped passengers carried followed by Air New Zealand and United with 4.8 per cent apiece.

Overall commercial scheduled passenger traffic in April 2020 was 69,500, compared with 3.5 million in April 2019 – a decrease of 98 per cent.

Around 235,348 seats were available to and from Australia, a drop of 95 per cent compared with April 2019.

On average, seat utilisation was just 30 per cent, meaning most planes ran mostly empty, with some likely to be carrying only a handful of passengers.

Internationally, Qatar claims to have accounted for almost one in five international passengers in April globally.

In terms of ‘revenue passenger kilometres’, it said it was bigger than the next four carriers combined, according to statistics released by the IATA.

The airline has launched a huge PR offensive on the back of continuing to soldier on during the pandemic, using the slogan ‘Taking You Home’.

Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker, said, “While many airlines suspended operations, we continued to maintain a robust schedule and network. Our network never fell below 30 destinations and we have recently begun to regrow our global network with over 170 weekly flights to more than 40 destinations and plan to resume over half of our previous destinations by the end of the summer season.

“Our commitment to the travel market is clear, Qatar Airways is the airline passengers and trade partners can rely on now and in the future.”

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16 Comments

  • Craigy

    says:

    I have flown Qatar and it was average at best. Mind you I flew economy so can’t comment on the other classes.

    • Chris

      says:

      I flew business… And thought was very average

  • Rory

    says:

    Great

  • Lee

    says:

    How sad.

  • LC KoolG

    says:

    The phrase ‘Take you home’ should be remembered in the context that Qatar financed Islamic State during their reign of terror, harboured Al Baghdadi and his stanic murderers and provided training schools for the killers. For all the babies, children, mothers and fathers who ISIS killed by the hundreds of thousands those words ring hollow. Boycott Qatar.

    • Lee

      says:

      Spot on! Well said. I would never want to pass through Doha anyway.

    • RAJA VIJAY GUNDAPU REDDY

      says:

      Its a lie. There is no proof of it.

  • Sam Mesfin

    says:

    I would like to express my gratitude to Qatar Airways for making coming home possible when the others can’t.

  • Darren

    says:

    It’s very unfair to say your the biggest carrier during a crisis when all of your competitors are shackled by COVID-19 government restrictions that your government has chosen not to take. Qatar being state run they took the sizable investment to continue to operate unprofitable flights to increase market share. Congratulations on not being restricted on transit and out bound travel. You will of course lose all of this benefit when countries like Australia return to quarantine free travel.

    • locoflight

      says:

      which look like never happening again

      • James

        says:

        Rubbish.

      • James

        says:

        Rubbish. We got through the pilots dispute, Ansett collapsing, SARS and September 11.

        We’ll get through this.

    • James

      says:

      Well said Darren.

  • NavDelta

    says:

    That is just a temporary situation only because some are not flying and the total numbers of passengers are low. Still like Qatar a lot.

  • RAJA VIJAY GUNDAPU REDDY

    says:

    Its a lie. There is no proof of it.

  • Augustin Van Lakerveld

    says:

    I am in Africa with the UN and Qatar has been a godsend. With Melbourne becoming out of bounds I quickly requested Perth from Doha and guess what…. no change fee. The only airline from east Africa is Ethiopian and then Qatar Airways. Too he’ll with Qantas, Singapore and Cathay.

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