QR lands in Syd­ney... at last

Travel Bulletin - - ISUES & TRENDS -

SIX years af­ter ini­tially an­nounc­ing it would launch flights to Syd­ney, Qatar Air­ways fi­nally touched down with non-stop ser­vices from Doha to the NSW Cap­i­tal in early March. Syd­ney is the first of two new Aus­tralian des­ti­na­tions added to the Gulf car­rier’s global route net­work in the first half of 2016, with a new daily Ade­laide ser­vice due to de­but in May, join­ing ex­ist­ing op­er­a­tions to Mel­bourne and Perth, which launched in 2009 & 2012 re­spec­tively. Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence in Syd­ney, Qatar Air­ways Group CEO Ak­bar Al Baker flagged fur­ther ex­pan­sion down un­der, with a pos­si­ble fifth des­ti­na­tion on the radar - likely to be Bris­bane. Al Baker re­mained tight-lipped on the spe­cific des­ti­na­tion to pro­tect QR’S in­ter­est from ri­val air­lines, quip­ping “you never know, it could be Dar­win”. A fifth Aus­tralian gate­way will re­quire a re­newed bi­lat­eral agree­ment be­tween Qatar and Aus­tralia, with Al Baker stat­ing the cur­rent Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment is “very re­cep­tive to giv­ing ad­di­tional traf­fic rights to pro­mote tourism”. Op­er­at­ing on a daily ba­sis to Syd­ney us­ing its flag­ship Boe­ing 777-300ER air­craft, the ser­vice will con­trib­ute $240 mil­lion an­nu­ally to the Aus­tralian econ­omy and gen­er­ate an es­ti­mated 3,000 jobs in NSW. The Doha-syd­ney ser­vice was orig­i­nally slated to de­but shortly af­ter Qatar Air­ways com­menced its Mel­bourne op­er­a­tion but slipped off the radar due to Syd­ney Air­port’s flight cur­few, which would have meant park­ing its air­craft on the ground overnight. Al Baker ex­plained to trav­elbul­letin the dif­fer­ence be­tween 2010 and now was Qatar Air­ways’ sched­ule and ac­cess to a third bank of slots - times when flights come in and de­part so they con­nect - at Doha’s Ha­mad In­ter­na­tional Air­port. “We were op­er­at­ing only two times at Doha at the time. Now we have started the third bank we are able to take the air­craft out of Syd­ney be­fore the cur­few time. “The rea­son it fell off our radar six years ago is be­cause we could not af­ford to leave our air­craft on the ground dur­ing the cur­few pe­riod. If we took the air­craft im­me­di­ately back [to Doha] we wouldn’t give the seam­less con­nec­tion, the min­i­mum con­nect­ing time we can now pro­vide pas­sen­gers from Syd­ney,” Al Baker told trav­elbul­letin. Ad­vanced de­mand for the new Syd­ney route has been so high Qatar Air­ways will de­ploy its high-den­sity Air­bus A380 on the route over “peak pe­ri­ods” from June, Al Baker re­vealed at the event. Quizzed if the de­mand for Qatar Air­ways’ ser­vice would war­rant ad­di­tional slots at Syd­ney Air­port, Al Baker said “maybe in the fu­ture, yes, but for the time be­ing we are just go­ing to stay with seven”.

The rea­son it fell off our radar six years ago is be­cause we could not af­ford to leave our air­craft on the ground dur­ing the pe­riod’ cur­few

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