QR lands in Sydney... at last
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