Following a five-month hiatus, Qatar Airways is heading back to Adelaide. The Doha based airline will resume services to South Australia’s capital city on August 16. Qatar Airways suspended services to Adelaide in March. With Adelaide now back in the timetable, Qatar Airways jets will be regularly touching down in Australia’s five key capital cities.
The A350-900 is heading back to Adelaide
Initially, Qatar Airways will be sending one of their A350-900s to Adelaide twice a week. It is a step back from their previous daily services to Adelaide. Nonetheless, it does provide Adelaide with some much-needed connectivity.
Adelaide has long been the Cinderella of Australia’s mainland capital cities when it comes to international airline connectivity. Those international services that did operate to Adelaide were knocked for six by the travel downturn. Only Singapore Airlines is maintaining a threadbare schedule into the city.
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When it comes to international flights, Qantas abandoned Adelaide years ago. Amid a historic travel downturn, Qatar Airways is flying into five Australian capital cities. That’s more than Qantas can manage in a boom year.
“We are excited to resume services to Adelaide, highlighting our ongoing commitment to the Australian market during this difficult period,” says Qatar Airways CEO, Mr. Akbar Al Baker.
“We are proud to have been one of the few airlines never to stop services to Australia.”
Qatar Airways offering the best connectivity into Australia
From mid-August, Qatar Airways will operate 23 passenger flights a week into Australia. That includes daily services to Sydney and Melbourne, four times weekly services to Perth, thrice-weekly services to Brisbane, and the twice-weekly services into Adelaide. It may be a big step back from their Australian schedules before the travel downturn, but it remains by far the biggest capacity deployment into Australia by any airline.
It goes some way to explaining why Qatar Airways carried a whopping 34.3% of all passengers in and out of Australia in May. In May 2019, Qatar’s market share was 3.3%. In contrast, Australia’s national carrier, Qantas, had a 3.4% market share in May 2020. Since Qantas wrapped up its repatriation and government-subsidized international flying in June, their market share will have further declined.
While Qatar Airways deserves kudos for its commitment to markets like Australia, it has not been a trouble-free ride for the airline.
Economy class passengers getting bumped off flights
When the Australian Government capped passenger numbers on inbound international flights to just 50, Qatar Airways came under fire for bumping economy class passengers at the expense of higher-yielding premium cabin passengers.
What could have been an aberration at the time has since become entrenched behavior. Despite widespread criticism, airlines such as Qatar Airways are continuing to ‘cancel’ flights for economy class passengers.
So while Adelaide Airport might welcome back Qatar Airways, prospective Adelaide bound passengers will need to warm up their credit cards and pay big money for a flight. Economy class fares are still on sale on some Adelaide flights later in August. But with passenger complaints flooding in, you could not buy an economy class ticket into Australia right now and be confident you would get to fly.
Meanwhile, Adelaide is rolling out the red carpet. South Australia’s Premier, The Hon Steven Marshall MP calls the resumption of Qatar’s services a significant vote of confidence in South Australia. He says it is a positive first step in reinstating services.
“It is terrific to see flights back in the air and see some early optimistic news from the sector.”