Qatar Airways fronts Senate airline inquiry after extra flights application rejected | Airlines

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Qatar Airways says it was “surprised and shocked” by the federal government decision to reject its application for additional international flights into Australia.

Its senior vice-president of global sales, Matt Raos, made the comments as he fronted a Senate inquiry into the airline industry in Australia, and said the company “can’t understand why” their original application for extra flights was rejected.

“Even more surprising, was that the government gave us no reason for rejecting our application,” he said.

Qatar also claimed they had found out about the rejection of the application through the media, not the government.

Federal Transport Minister Catherine King had rejected a bid by Qatar Airways to introduce an additional 28 weekly flights into Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney on the same day she signed a letter to five Australian women who were strip-searched at a Qatari airport.

Mr Raos added Qatar Airways and the State of Qatar had been “a friend and ally of Australia for 40 years”, adding that the airline currently generates $3 billion of economic benefits to Australia and would generate $3 billion more if the flight application was accepted.

The senior vice-president said that Qatar had been “there for Australia” during the bad times and the good, particularly pointing to the airlines operations over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When other airlines turned their back on Australia, Australians turned to us during COVID. The Australian government asked us to help Australians return home,” he said in his opening remarks to the inquiry.

“In fact, some members of parliament and from all sides of politics also asked us to help their constituents return home.”

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