Qatar Airways’ influence within Australian aviation appears to have grown significantly after both the South Australia Premier, Steven Marshall, and Federal Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham, publicly heaped praise on the business for restarting flights to Adelaide.
In a press release issued by the state-owned airline, Premier Marshall said, “Qatar Airways has been a growing brand flying into Adelaide for a number of years helping to service important markets to and from Europe, so it is terrific to see flights back in the air and see some early optimistic news from the sector.”
The comments by two such senior figures will be seen as hugely important given how rarely high-ranking politicians contribute to corporate media releases.
The business’ chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said Qatar had become the “airline of choice for many Australian embassies” to help repatriate citizens stranded abroad. In total, Qatar now estimates it has helped return 170,000 Australians and international travellers, which it estimates is 10 times more than its nearest competitor.
Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have all-but paused commercial international flights, leaving the Doha-based airline now comfortably the biggest in Australia.
From 16 August, Qatar Airways will operate two-weekly flights to Adelaide, allowing passengers to connect on towards a further 35 international destinations.
It also means the airline is now the only major carrier operating international flights out of the five biggest Australian capital cities.
By the end of the month, the business will operate 23 weekly passenger flights and two weekly freighter flights to Australia, offering more than 700 tonnes of weekly cargo capacity in total.
Australian citizens, permanent residents and dual citizens are still banned from leaving the country, meaning the flights will likely be used for repatriation and essential workers.
Australian’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, said, “I am delighted to see the ongoing commitment of Qatar Airways to the Adelaide market. These flights will provide another freight route for South Australian exporters, enabling them to get their high-quality produce onto planes and into the Middle East and Europe.”
The flights will be the first regular international passenger service to the Middle East since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Qatar never stopped flying to Melbourne, Perth and Sydney during the crisis, and even expanded its offering to fly to Brisbane for the first time.
In June, Australian Aviation reported that 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 airline has launched a huge PR offensive on the back of continuing to soldier on during the pandemic, using the slogan ‘Taking You Home’.
With the resumption of flights to Adelaide, Qatar Airways will operate 23 passenger flights per week to Australia:
- Two weekly flights to Adelaide
- Three weekly flights to Brisbane
- Four weekly flights to Perth
- Daily flights to Melbourne
- Daily flights to Sydney