QLD Government comes out in support of additional Qatar Airways flights

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia - May 12 2023 : A Boeing 777 from Qatar Airways is seen heading to Brisbane airport

The Queensland Labor Government has come out in support of additional capacity for Qatar Airways, saying it would lower airfares, boost tourism, and create jobs.

The support goes against the Federal Labor party’s stance which opposed additional capacity for the carrier, saying it was not in the national interest.

Acting QLD premier Steven Miles was speaking at an event with Virgin Australia over the weekend where he voiced his support for the middle eastern airline to have additional capacity.

“The Queensland government would like to see as many flights as possible because as we’ve outlined, those arriving passengers deliver economic activity here and that creates jobs here and prosperity,” he said. “The capacity would create supply, which drives down prices.”

Alongside Miles, opposition to Qatar Airways’ blocking has been voiced across the political spectrum.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said the blocking was “unconscionable”, while Labor national president Wayne Swan called for the blocking decision to be reconsidered considering what was revealed in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions lawsuit last week.

“We have price gouging and deceptive conduct and real questions to be answered by Qantas, and in particular the Qantas board, which has appeared to be arrogant and very much in breach of the law,” Swan said.

Qantas’ role in advising the Federal Government blocking was the subject of much inquiry when the airline’s boss Alan Joyce faced a senate committee last.

When asked about the conversations he had with the Prime Minister on the blocking, he refused to provide any information.

“Any conversations I have with the prime minister or a minister I never divulge. I’ve kept that for all seven prime ministers and I have no intention of changing my approach,” Joyce said. He also weaved around an answer when asked if allowing Qatar Airways to come back would mean lowered airfares.

On the decision to block Qatar, Joyce repeated the claim used by transport minister Catherine King when she asked about her blocking of the middle eastern airline: Qatar Airways’ rejection was made in the national interest.

“Qatar can add capacity through flying bigger aircraft to cities like Adelaide, Darwin. There is nothing stopping them from adding capacity to those locations,” Joyce said.

While Joyce was being questioned by the committee, Virgin Australia – the code share partner with Qatar Airways – accused the government of designing policy that would benefit Qantas.

“Any suggestion that denying Qatar additional flights was designed to protect Qantas’ medium-to-long term sustainability neglects the fact that blocking Qatar damages the domestic and international competitive position of Virgin Australia in favour of Qantas,” Virgin’s chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer Christian Bennett said.

Virgin Australia is owned partly by the Queensland Government (2-3%) along with the global Virgin Group (5%) and Bain Capital (93%). The airline has partnered with the QLD Government to launch a sale on 300,000 airfares, with tickets starting from $49.

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