Qantas warns government not to reverse decision to block extra flights by Qatar Airways

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Qantas has warned the government not to back down from its decision to block the request for extra flights by rival airline Qatar Airways.

The carrier’s written submission to an ongoing Senate inquiry stated that any review or appeal of the decision would be “out of step” with global aviation practices.

“Bilateral air services agreements are the result of a government-to-government process… airlines and other parties do not have ‘rights’ that can be properly appealed in this context and granting them would put Australia out of step with other jurisdictions in an environment where reciprocity is critical,” the submission states.

“In analogous fields, such as trade or taxation, there are no appeal provisions in respect of other government-to-government agreements.”

Qantas has argued that the extra flights would distort the markets.

“It would be inappropriate to make a significant structural change to an important bilateral agreement, which had the potential to permanently distort the market while the sector was still recovering,” Qantas said.

A final report is due on October 9 but the saga continues to be a thorn in Transport Minister Catherine King’s side with new reports showing an incident involving five Australian women at Doha Airport was likely a key factor in the Federal Government’s decision to block the request by Qatar Airways.

A report by The Guardian shows King sought advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Dfat) about a letter she was preparing to send to the five women informing them of her plan to reject Qatar Airways’ call for more flights.

A separate letter to the Qatari government telling them of the government’s decision to reject the 28 extra flights was also run by Dfat around the same time before being sent.

The timing of the two separate letters has added further fuel to speculation King’s decision was influenced by the plight of the five women.