The Australian government recently signed a renegotiated air service agreement with Qatar Aiways, permitting 50 percent increase in flight capacity between the two countries. This is expected to give a fillip to tourism and agricultural exports.
The changes will add 21 extra flights to both the sides on a per week basis, connecting Australia’s major gateways of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. It also offers the option for Qatar Airways to start more flights to Australia’s regional locations. At present Qatar Airways operates daily services connecting Doha with Melbourne and Perth, Reuters reported.
So far, it had no direct flights to Sydney. But the passengers to Sydney were provided the option of booking a code-share flight with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong, according to Doha News.
Boost for tourism
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the extra flight capacity from the Qatar deal is a boost for the tourism industry and will spur growth in the Australia-Qatar and Australia-Europe routes.
“Under our air services arrangements with Qatar, airlines can also operate unlimited services between Qatar and regional locations such as Darwin, Adelaide, Gold Coast and Cairns,” said Truss.
Qatar is one of the key trading partners for Australia with average Aussie exports, in the range of AU$502 million as in 2013.
The enhanced presence of Qatar Airways in Australia also marks an impending spurt in competition among the Gulf carriers already servicing Australia. As the new deal allows Qatar Airways to open direct services out of Sydney, Brisbane and other airports, it will put pressure on Qantas and its partner Emirates, which jointly fly thousands of Australians to Europe via Dubai, and also on the Virgin Australia-Etihad partnership of services that offer passengers the Abu Dhabi route.
It is estimated that there has been 15.7 percent increase in the number of travellers from the United Arab Emirates to Australia and the number of Aussies visiting the UAE had a 16.2 percent spurt.
Tourism Minister Richard Colbeck welcomed the Qatar deal and said it would “strengthen aviation links with the region, and support the Government’s Tourism 2020 strategy by facilitating greater visitor numbers from the Gulf”.
In June, Qatar Airways was adjudged the world’s best carrier in the annual SkyTrax awards, in recognition to its attention to details in spaning every aspect of the aircraft. The economy seats of Qatar Airways were also lauded for being the roomiest and most comfortable in the world. The Doha-based airline also offers the passengers, some 2000 entertainment options on their screens.
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