Qatar Airways has one noticeable gap in their Australian service: Brisbane. Unfortunately for Qatar Airways, this is a result of a treaty between Qatar and Australia that limits service to major cities. In addition, flag carrier Qantas does not seem open to giving Qatar more flights to Australia.
Qatar and Australia have an agreement on the number of flights between the two countries. Currently, Qatar is limited to 21 weekly services to major cities. The major cities are:
21 weekly services amounts to three daily flights. Qatar Airways prioritizes flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. But, Qatar Airways does also operate a second daily flight to Sydney. They get around this by offering it as continuing service to Canberra. Flights to Adelaide are not affected as part of this treaty.
The spat with Qantas
Despite being members of the same alliance, Oneworld, Qatar and Qantas do not see eye-to-eye. Qantas has chosen to closely align with Emirates over Qatar. As one of Qatar’s largest competitors, Emirates’ alliance with Qantas does not seem to have gone down well with Qatar.
Qatar Airways has made it clear that they are unhappy with their position in the Oneworld alliance. While Qantas is targeting Qatar Airways in Australia, American carriers have not taken a fancy to Qatar’s expansion either. Recently, the big three American carriers have gone to bat against Air Italy, an airline that Qatar Airways has a stake in.
Qatar flights to Brisbane
Qatar Airways has made it clear that they want to serve Brisbane. Last year, Routes Online reported that Qatar would do “whatever it takes” to create a Brisbane route.
Fast forward to 2019, Qatar Airways still has not launched service to Brisbane. Furthermore, no movement has been made on an expansion of services to Australia. This is likely due to hurdles with government approval. And, perhaps, there could be a little more to the story.
Why Qantas would be against Qatar’s expansion
Flying from Europe to Australia generally requires a connection. This could be either via a point in Asia- say Singapore- or a point in the Middle East. Etihad and Emirates fly a number of routes to Australia already. Meanwhile, Qantas has been eyeing their own share of this market. They have launched ultra-long-haul routes out of Perth with more on the horizon. Naturally, this market is competitive. And, for Qantas, Qatar represents an extra competitor.
In comparison to Qatar’s passenger experience, Qantas has a bit of catching up to do. With a stunning onboard product and major connecting opportunities, Qatar’s Qsuite would represent serious competition against Qantas. This is a threat that other Gulf carriers do not bring. Emirates’ business class is a bit lackluster, and, Etihad does not have a terribly competitive onboard product either. It also does not help Qantas’ case that Qatar has been bagging awards for best business class.
This is an unfortunate situation for Qatar Airways. Not only do they have a gap in their Australian network, but they also face headwinds from an alliance partner. Thus, it is understandable why Qatar Airways has threatened to leave the alliance. One-stop connections between Europe and Australia can bring major benefits to an airline. Qatar is angling for a share for this. Until a new deal is reached, Qatar Airways is stuck with limited frequencies in a lucrative and competitive market.
Should Qatar Airways receive additional frequencies to Australia? Do you think Qatar will launch flights to Brisbane? Let us know in the comments!