Qantas warns government against review of extra Qatar flights

Qantas warns government against review of extra Qatar flights

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Qantas has finally delivered its written submission to the Senate inquiry into the rejection of Qatar Airways’ bid for extra flights to Australia, warning the government off reviewing or allowing an appeal of the controversial decision.

It comes weeks after Virgin, Qatar and Rex provided written submissions to the committee.

In its nine-page document, Qantas told the inquiry that any review of the decision that denied Qatar’s application to launch 28 extra flights would put Australia out of step with the rest of the aviation world.

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Vanessa Hudson, Qantas CEO and Managing Director, during a Senate hearing

“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 claimed that Qatar’s application for extra flights could have warped the Australian aviation market as it emerged from the pandemic.

“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,” the airline said.

“That recovery is exactly what is happening.

“Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Delta, ANA and China Eastern are among the airlines that are adding capacity back into Australia, and international fares have dropped considerably as a result.”

However, in the next paragraph, Qantas pointed out that Qatar’s application wouldn’t have granted the Middle Eastern carrier a particularly large increase to its capacity.

“There is plenty of opportunity for airlines, including Qatar Airways, to add more flights to Australia under the current arrangements,” it said.

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9 - Qatar Airways

“The capacity Qatar Civil Aviation Authority applied for represented an estimated two percentage points of incremental, annualised capacity,” it said, adding the airline is able to add far more seats under the existing arrangements by upsizing aircraft.

New Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson fronted the Senate inquiry last week alongside chairman Richard Goyder, while former boss Alan Joyce is expected to be summoned once he arrives back in Australia.

Transport Minister Catherine King, who made the decision to reject Qatar’s application, has indicated she won’t appear in front of the committee.

A final report is due on October 9.

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