The Federal Government is coming under increasing pressure to reverse its decision not to grant Qatar Airways extra flights into Australia.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called on Transport Minister Catherine King to rethink her decision saying the extra flights would deliver a much needed boost to the nation’s tourism industry.
“The decision to deny the application has been estimated to cost the tourism industry up to $788 million,” ACCI executive chairman John Hart said in a letter to King, as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald.
“This is significant revenue that the tourism industry will potentially miss out on at a time when they are rebuilding following the COVID-19 restrictions.”
Hart also wrote to Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell warning that the decision might set a precedent for future applications from other governments.
“If this decision sets a precedent for consideration of future applications, being that requests for additional flights will not be granted, the loss to the tourism industry will be grave,” Hart said.
“The growth of Australian tourism is a function of inbound and outbound air capacity, and any limitations on capacity stunt growth – not only through numbers of seats inbound but also through price competitiveness.”
Virgin chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka also criticised the move, saying the extra flights would help bring international airfares down.
“We are deeply disappointed that our partner Qatar Airways is unable to expand its services to Australia,” she said.
“Additional Qatar flights would have an immediate and tangible effect in reducing airfares between Australia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Qatar is in the unique position in the context of a constrained global supply of widebody aircraft, to be able to quickly make available four additional services per day to Australia.”