Besides the Doha-Adelaide route, Qatar Airways plans to add another non-stop flight to another Australian city. For 2017-18, the Middle Eastern carrier plans its fifth direct Australian destination by flying to Canberra from Doha.
The Canberra-Doha route is one of the 150 destinations of Qatar Airways from the air carrier’s base in the capital city’s Hamad International Airport. The Australian capital city joins Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth as part of Qatar Airways’ global network, Canberra Times reports. Besides Canberra, Qatar Airways also added 14 more new destinations worldwide.
Stephen Byron, managing airport of Canberra Airport, says with the addition of a Doha-Canberra flight, plus Canberra-Wellington and Canberra-Singapore routes, the airport would be handling about 5 million passengers yearly. However, since the gateway could accommodate up to 12 million air travelers annually, Byron says he is still talking to other international airline to fly to Canberra.
Byron and Robyn Hendry, chief executive of Canberra Business Chamber, were both surprised by the sudden decision of Qatar Airways to announce the selection the Australian capital city as their next direct destination flight from Doha although they were aware of discussions about the plan. Hendry says that the addition of Singapore and Doha makes Canberra an international city.
The inclusion of Canberra is part of an extended bilateral air service agreement between Australian and Qatar signed in September 2015 that allows the increase of flights between Qatar and four major Australian cities to 21 from 14 per week.
Singapore Airlines flew direct to Canberra in September and operates four times a week between the Australian capital city and to Wellington. The entry of Singapore surprised even the Australian Capital Territory officials, ABC reports.
The addition of a Doha-Canberra direct flight comes at a time that Qantas’s restored Sydney-San Francisco direct flights’ long-term future could be at risk because of a decision by the US Department of Transportation to deny the antitrust protection application of Qantas and American Airlines which plan to expand their collaboration.