Why Doesn’t Qatar Fly To Brisbane?

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 Airways does not fly to Brisbane. Photo: Tom Boon/Simple Flying

The agreement

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:

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane
  • Perth

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.

Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways prioritizes flights to Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne. Photo: Qatar Airways

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.

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Emirates
Qantas chose to partner with Emirates over Qatar. Photo: Tom Boon/Simple Flying

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.

Qantas 787
Qantas has taken umbrage against Qatar’s expansion in Australia. Photo: Qantas

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.

Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways vowed to do “whatever it takes” to fly to Brisbane. Photo: Qatar Airways

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.

Qantas Dreamliner
Qantas has been adding new ultra-long-haul routes with Boeing 787 aircraft. Photo: Qantas

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.

Qatar Airways Qsuites put up big competition against Qantas. Photo: Qatar Airways

Overall

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!

2 comments
  1. I flew Qatar from Oslo to Doha (2 days break in Doha) then Doha to Singapore before continuing on to Brisbane on Singapore Airlines In economy the service on Qatar was OK but could not compare to Singapore. As all 3 flights were about the same length, and all 3 were daytime flights had a good base for my comparison.

    1. As a fairly regular flyer and a user of both airlines , I agree with your judgement . My next flight is in a few weeks from SYD to LHR and I’m flying SQ .

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