Albanese’s Qatar Airways snub cops criticism


The Albanese government’s decision to knock back Qatar Airways request for additional weekly flights between Australia and Doha has been called out for stifling competition and keeping international airfares high.

Reports have been critical of the decision to block Qatar Airways request for an extra 21 flights, saying it appears to be supporting Qantas by undermining any international competition for flights overseas.

Transport Minister Catherine King has been vague about the reasoning behind the decision, with a spokesperson saying the government took into account “all national interest considerations”.

There has been speculation the decision is centred on the treatment of several Australian women who are seeking damages from Qatar Airways over their treatment by authorities in Doha following an incident at the airport.

The women wrote to King in June to express their concern at Qatar Airways being granted additional flights into Australia.

Speaking to The Guardian, an industry source said bilateral agreements “are merely an extension of foreign policy”.

“The refusal of additional air rights is essentially a free kick to Qantas, who are profitable but aren’t expanding much right now … so this holds their competition back too,” the source said.

The Australian Financial Review called the explanations behind the move to block extra flights “risible”.

“First came the backgrounding about the 2020 strip search of five Australian women by Qatari authorities at Doha airport. Transport Minister Catherine King then declared the decision was about helping decarbonise the economy!” the AFR report stated.

The Albanese government’s cosy relationship with Qantas wasn’t helped by the optics of Qantas CEO Alan Joyce handing Albanese’s son a pass to the highly coveted Chairmans Lounge.