ADELAIDE- Premier Peter Malinauskas has expressed that South Australia considers Qatar Airways (QR) to be a valuable partner.
He has highlighted the airline’s potential to expand its international flight services into Adelaide (ADL) while also acknowledging criticism directed at the Albanese Government for rejecting Qatar Airways’ proposal to increase flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
Qatar Airways Australia Flights
As the scrutiny surrounding the rejection of Qatar’s request for additional international flights into the aforementioned cities intensifies, Malinauskas emphasized that there are no limitations on the number of international flights Qatar Airways can operate to and from Adelaide.
He stated, “Qatar has the opportunity to operate frequent flights to and from Adelaide, and there is additional capacity available for them to consider adding more flights to the Adelaide market if they wish to do so.”
At present, Qatar Airways operates two daily international routes to and from Adelaide. Of these, one is directly to Doha and another via Melbourne.
Malinauskas underlined that Qatar Airways, owned by the Qatari government, holds a significant position as a valued partner. He emphasized the airline’s crucial role in conducting repatriation flights for South Australians stranded abroad during the pandemic.
“Qatar was essentially the sole airline that committed to providing regular services to Adelaide, catering to both passengers and freight needs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Their dedication deserves our commendation,” he remarked.
He also conveyed his personal gratitude to Qatar Airways. He highlighted the airline’s vital support to the people of South Australia during the pandemic, in addition to facilitating accessibility to international markets for inbound tourists.
“We view Qatar Airways as a cherished partner, and we are committed to preserving this relationship here in South Australia,” he concluded.
Rejection for More Flights
Federal Transport Minister Catherine King has faced rigorous questioning regarding her rejection of Qatar Airways’ proposal to add 21 additional weekly flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, in addition to the 28 weekly flights it already operates to these destinations, particularly amid the backdrop of high international airfare.
The Opposition, which has initiated a Senate inquiry into the decision, has accused the government of safeguarding Qantas’ interests.
Nevertheless, the government has thus far resisted calls to reverse the decision. Minister King cited the invasive body searches of a group of Australian women at Doha Airport three years ago as the “context” behind her rejection. However, she emphasized that no single determining factor influenced her decision.
“In making this decision, I had a national interest in mind, not commercial interests,” she affirmed.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek further commented that there are no restrictions preventing Qatar Airways from operating more flights to smaller Australian airports, including Adelaide.
She stated, “I believe Catherine King has made it quite clear: if Qatar Airways wishes to increase its flight operations in and out of Australia, it has the capability to do so, including flights to and from Adelaide, Canberra, the Gold Coast, and Cairns.”
More International Flights to Adelaide
Adelaide Airport management has been actively working to attract international airlines back to South Australia following the relaxation of COVID-era travel restrictions.
Currently, the airlines offering international flights from Adelaide include Singapore Airlines (Adelaide to Singapore), Air New Zealand (Adelaide to Auckland), Malaysia Airlines, and Batik Air (both servicing Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur), as well as Fiji Airways (Adelaide to Nadi).
However, the airport has yet to succeed in reinstating direct flights from China Southern Airlines and Cathay Pacific, which previously operated flights between Guangzhou and Hong Kong, respectively, to Adelaide.
Adelaide Airport CEO Brenton Cox emphasized the importance of regaining their customer base, noting this during a parliamentary inquiry into the merger of South Australian universities last month.
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