The Federal Transport Minister Catherine King said her decision to block Qatar Airways’ request for more flights was not due to the forced examination of Australian women at Doha Airport.
King, with input from Qantas, opposed Qatar Airways’ request to add 21 flights per week into hubs such as Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth from the Middle East. Qantas opposed the bid on the grounds that it would cause Australian job losses, according to The Australian.
The group of Australian women also oppose Qatar’s proposal due to invasive searches at Doha Airport they were subjected to in 2020, which the airline is currently defending itself against in a Federal Court case.
The women were among a group of passengers ordered off ten international flights as authorities looked for the mother of a new-born baby that was put in a bin at the airport. Some of the women, aged between 33 and 75, had young children accompanying them and they were forced off the plane at gunpoint into vans where they were taken for gynaecological examinations.
King wrote a letter to these women earlier this month explaining that she will not be granting Qatar Airways extra landing rights. She has not publicly explained her decision.
“We don’t wish to progress further bilateral flight arrangements with Qatar,” King said.