Qatar Airways has delayed rolling out its A350-1000 on its Doha-Sydney-Canberra-Sydney-Doha route. The aircraft, set to begin flying the route on October 27th, 2019, has had its start date pushed back to November 16th. Currently, this flight is serviced by a Boeing 777-300ER.
It means Cathay Pacific will pip Qatar Airways to the post. It will send the first A350-1000 into Australia on October 27th, when one of its A350-1000s will operate CX105 to Melbourne. The following day, October 28th, Cathay Pacific will launch A350-1000 flights into both Sydney and Perth.
The Qatar 777 flight, QR0906, touches down in Sydney at 07:40 AEST. It would have beat Cathay’s inaugural A350-1000 landing in Melbourne by five hours. It’s hardly earth-shattering, but it would have been a little footnote in aviation history and Qatar is rarely one to miss a marketing opportunity.
Qatar in Australia
Qatar has a significant market presence in Australia and is widely regarded as one of the best airlines flying into the country. Premium Aussie travelers love the QSuites on the long haul out across the Indian Ocean to Europe.
Qatar flies into Sydney twice a day. In addition to the 777-300ER morning arrival, an A380 (QR0908) touches down every evening. There is a daily A380 service (QR0904) into Melbourne, arriving early evening. Perth is also graced with a daily A380 service (QR0900).
Qatar doesn’t service Brisbane, despite repeated attempts to do so. But it does get kudos in Australia for flying into two under-serviced airports; Adelaide and Canberra. It sends an A350-900 (QR0914) into Adelaide every day, arriving late afternoon. It is a popular service with locals, especially as Qantas does not offer direct international flights out of the South Australian capital.
The Canberra Qatar tag flight
Canberra is a braver (some would say, crazy brave) destination. The Canberra flight is a tag flight on the morning 777-300ER Sydney flight. It is this flight that’s earmarked for the A350-1000.
Canberra, Australia’s national bush capital, is a small city of just under 400,000 people a few hours drive down the M5 from Sydney Airport. Qantas and Virgin Australia also offer frequent services between the two cities. Canberra Airport has lofty ambitions but it has had a hard time attracting international airlines. In the last few years, both Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways have started to fly in.
And the Canberra services seem to be working okay. It isn’t about saving time, it’s about avoiding the hassle of the transfer between domestic and international flights at Sydney Airport.
Says one Canberra local on a forum on Australian Frequent Flyer;
“Living in Canberra, and returning to overseas travel in the last couple of years…. how GOOD is it that one can now actually take an international flight from Canberra INTERNATIONAL Airport?
I’ve flown out with Qatar four times in the last 18 months, and damn I just love the almost toy-town experience of departing from Canberra airport.
Generally its five minutes from arrival to the airport to check in to domestic security to international security to gate. FIVE minutes.
Sooooo much indescribably better than flying domestically to Sydney and going through the Sydney transfer circus!
So much faster than catching a bus to the Sydney International Terminal… etc etc.
So yeah yeah there’s a “technical stop” (marketing stop) in Sydney but it still makes the experience much better.
Have to try Singapore Airlines at some point too….”
While the 777-330ER servicing this route does have the QSuites, the A350-1000 offers more seats and, in a win for economy class passengers, offers an extra 0.4” of seat width compared to economy seats on the 777-300ER.
Qatar currently sends it A350-1000s to Dallas, Washington, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo, Houston and New York. That lofty list will surely give local Canberra media and the bush capital boosters a chance to claim Canberra’s arrival on the scene as a serious world capital!
Simple Flying approached Qatar Airways for comment but had received no response prior to publication.