Officials from Qatar Airways fronted an Australian senate inquiry into the airline industry after the government rejected its application for additional flights to the country.
In July 2023, the Australian government rejected Qatar Airways’ bid to add 21 extra weekly flights from Doha Hamad International Airport (DOH) to Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD), Melbourne Airport (MEL) and Brisbane International Airport (BNE). This would be in addition to the 28 weekly flights it currently offers.
Fronting the inquiry, Qatar Airways senior vice president of global sales Matt Raos said that the airline does not understand why the federal government decided to block its application for extra flights, especially because no reason was given for the rejection.
Raos said that for 40 years, the airline and the State of Qatar had been a “friend and ally” of Australia, pointing out that the carrier, with its current routes to the country, generates AU 3 Billion ($1.91 Billion) worth of economic benefits, and would generate AU 3 Billion ($1.91 Billion) more if the application for extra flights was approved.
Speaking on behalf of other Qatar Airways officials, the senior vice president also said the airline was “disappointed” as the company helped out in times of need, including bringing home stranded Australians during the pandemic.
“When other airlines turned their back on Australia, Australians turned to us during COVID. The Australian government asked us to help Australians return home. In fact, some members of parliament and from all sides of politics also asked us to help their constituents return home,” Raos said in his opening remarks.
When asked about the October 2020 invasive search procedure that Australian women went through at Doha Airport, Raos said that the incident was a “one-off”, and that he could not comment extensively because the matter is currently under Federal Court investigation.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, was summoned to the inquiry, but was not able to attend.