Qatar Airways has been in regular communication with the Australian Government since the onset of the pandemic to provide, in addition to nine repatriation charters operated to/from Australia, extra capacity to help bring Australians home.
With rules that airlines are allowed to carry a maximum of 30-50 passengers to Sydney, 40-45 to Perth, 25 to Brisbane, and 60 to Adelaide each day, it’s no wonder how roughly 100,000 Aussies are currently stranded overseas, trying to get home.
However, despite the obstacles in place, Qatar Airways remains committed to supporting the repatriation of Australian residents whilst also complying with the passenger cap restrictions announced by the Australian Government.
What Qatar is doing
Qatar Airways is operating a robust Australian network to five cities, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne (currently no inbound passengers permitted), Perth, and Sydney to facilitate ongoing repatriation and is currently operating more flights than any other international airline.
Due to the dynamic nature of the pandemic, airlines operating flights to Australia have faced ever-changing restrictions, often imposed on short notice.
Because of the continuous changes in restrictions as announced in Australia from time to time, passengers have experienced a cascading effect of restrictions affecting both previous existing bookings for flights scheduled during the first announced period of restrictions and new bookings that were made for flights scheduled for dates beyond the first announced restricted period, but are now included in the current extended restriction period.
These combined restrictions have resulted in many passengers having their tickets rebooked onto later flights several times as demand exceeds the new caps announced.
With the recent extension of restrictions until late-October, Qatar Airways can only transport a maximum of approximately 4,500 passengers during this time. As a result, every day hundreds of people are advised that they cannot be accommodated on their booked flight and need to be rebooked for a later date where there may be availability.
To further limit the impact of the restrictions, the airline has already stopped accepting any new bookings for flights to Australia until the current passenger cap is relaxed.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Ensuring the continued repatriation of passengers to Australia is becoming increasingly challenging. While we continue to work closely with the Australian authorities to protect public health, unfortunately, many disappointed passengers are unable to travel as per their travel plans.”
“Given the restrictions, we cannot accommodate these passengers on an alternative flight the following day where we face the exact same issue so the problem continues to grow on a daily basis. We are working to prioritise cases that are emergencies or require urgent travel, but many cannot be immediately expedited.”
“While the airline realises the need for restrictions to limit the impact of any possible second wave of infections, many passengers will be unable to travel back to Australia for the foreseeable future.”
“Since April, we have been the leading airline carrying international traffic to and from Australia. While other airlines grounded operations, we kept flying, carrying almost 45% of international passengers in April and 34% in May, helping carry over 180,000 Australians and international travellers home.”
“These flights have also helped maintain vital supply chains for Australian businesses with our airline carrying just over 15,000 tonnes of Australian goods since 1 March 2020. The continued operation of these flights is vital to the Australian economy as they maintain a much-needed link to the world and facilitate international exports.”
His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive
“We have always maintained that we have a long-term commitment to Australia and our support to Australian passengers will not waiver despite the challenges of COVID-19. We will continue to work within the limited traffic rights framework granted by the Australian Government and remain ready to operate as many flights as possible to bring stranded Australians home.”
A ‘balancing act’
The airline states that continuing to operate flights into Australia remains a balancing act while the current passenger caps are in place. The limit on numbers also means each individual flight needs to find the right combination of both economy and business class passengers.
This is to cater for the variety of consumers’ demand to travel, including urgent cases such as stranded, sick or desperate cases while remaining within the passenger caps allowed.
However, Qatar Airways states that they treat each passenger’s case on an individual basis regardless of what cabin class they have booked.
Qatar Airways has been assisting many passengers with emergency and compassionate cases ensuring that they have first priority to help them get on a flight home to Australia as soon as possible.
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