It could be a case of third time lucky for Qatar Airways and their Australia bound A350-1000. After initially announcing late October 2019 as the start date for its A350-1000 flights to Sydney and Canberra, Qatar pushed the date back to mid-November. Now, the date for the first flight has shifted again with the first Sydney bound A350-1000 pushing back from the gate at Doha on November 1, 2019.
This was reported in Executive Traveller and a check of the Qatar Airways website has the A350-1000 listed to operate QR906 down to Sydney and onto Canberra on November 1.
Qatar Airways has extensive operations into Australia, including A350-900 services to Adelaide, but this is the first time they’ve brought the A350-1000 down. In fact, they will be only the second operator of the A350-1000 into Australia (Cathay Pacific is starting flights to Melbourne this month).
The Doha based airline operates two daily services into Sydney. Their evening departure from Doha is operated by an A380 and their morning Doha departure is currently operated by a 777-330ER. Flying east, through the timezones, these flights touch down almost one full day after departure although the flying time is only fourteen and a half hours.
It is the 777-300ER service that Qatar Airways is swapping out for the A350-1000. As David Flynn in Executive Traveller notes, the 777-300ER is fine but the A350-1000 is a step up in class. It is quieter, bigger, and more modern.
Qatar Airways chaffs against traffic restrictions.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this service is its tag flight between Sydney and Canberra. The main service, QF906 between Doha and Sydney continues down to Canberra. Qatar Airways is one of only two international airlines that fly into Canberra. The aircraft sits on the ground in Canberra for a couple of hours before heading back to Sydney, picking up more passengers and heading out in the evening northwest to Doha.
The Canberra tag flight, whilst no doubt much welcomed by Canberrans who can avoid the whole domestic – international transfer fiasco at Sydney Airport, is a creative workaround of a treaty between Australia and Qatar which only allow 21 direct flights a week into the big Australian airports.
You’ve got the daily service in Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney and that allowance is chewed up.
But access to Australia’s secondary airports is not so restricted. So by adding that Canberra tag flight on, Qatar Airways picks up a second daily service to Sydney. A nice workaround and a win for Canberra locals. And, they are now picking up an A350-1000 into the deal.
Would a tag flight out of Melbourne work?
Would a Qatar tag flight to Hobart out of Melbourne be out of the question? Tasmania’s capital city airport would love an international service. Qatar’s Melbourne service does well. It’s an A380 service. Maybe a future possibility is two daily flights using smaller aircraft, sending one down to Hobart as a tag flight.
While that’s an interesting scenario, back on the ground, the A350-1000 service to Sydney and Canberra will be able to accommodate 327 passengers in two cabin classes. The majority of the economy cabin is configured in a 3-3-3 layout. Up the front, in business, 46 passengers can kick back in their Q Suites. Doing the full flight, all the way to Canberra would take 17 hours. I could think of worse ways to spend 17 hours.
Simple Flying approached Qatar Airways for a comment but have yet to receive a response.