Qatar Airways is looking to discontinue the Canberra leg of its Doha-Sydney route, claiming it is “uneconomical” for the airline.
The airline has been granted permission to fly twice-daily flights to Sydney as long as the second trip connects to a smaller airport, in this case, Canberra.
“The issue with Sydney is that if we fly the second daily frequency to Sydney, we have to expand it to Canberra,” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker explained to Executive Traveller.
“That is highly uneconomical for us because we also have to leave the aircraft there for a longer period of time, so this is a significant financial drain – and we have no other option since we can only fly two flights to Sydney if we extend one to Canberra.”
“We cannot transport passengers from Canberra to Sydney; we can only transport persons in transit from Canberra to Sydney,” Mr Al Baker explained.
The airline mentioned the issue during a pitch for a permanent Brisbane route.
“We’re confident that we’ll be able to maintain daily service to Canberra, but… obviously, recovery from the COVID pandemic calamity will take some time,” said Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron.
“It will be at least nine to twelve months until Singapore Airlines and possibly Qatar return.”
He stated that he was “quite confident” Singapore Airlines would return within the next 12 months, and that the airport’s priority would be domestic flights in the interim.
“We’d love to have direct flights to Sydney, Port Macquarie, Byron Bay, and Newcastle, and so on, but Sydney flights, we’re hoping, will open up on October 29th, when Canberra’s lockdown ends.”
By Joe Cusmano