Concerns are rising over the potential economic repercussions of preventing Qatar Airways from expanding its flights into Australia and Europe.
According to an analysis obtained by Nine Newspapers, this move could result in a loss of economic activity of as much as $788 million. This estimation is based on the assumption that half of the seats on these flights would be purchased by international visitors. Transport Minister Catherine King has addressed the Parliament, explaining that the decision to block Qatar Airways aims to safeguard domestic employment opportunities.
Adding to the complexities of the situation, international airfare prices have surged by 50 per cent compared to pre-COVID levels, placing an added burden on customers. The question arises: in the context of a government seeking to combat inflation, is it prudent to endorse a position that could potentially sustain elevated airfare costs over an extended period?
In this landscape, it’s noteworthy that Virgin lends its support to Qatar Airways due to its code-share agreement. Given this agreement, many of Qatar’s passengers would be seamlessly integrated into Virgin’s domestic network.
On the flip side, Qantas stands as the lone major stakeholder that has not voiced support for Qatar’s expanded presence in Australia and Europe. From a commercial standpoint, this stance aligns with Qantas’ interests, as the airline would likely prefer to avoid heightened competition on routes to Europe. This strategic perspective underscores the multifaceted nature of the debate surrounding Qatar Airways’ proposed expansion in the Australian and Greek markets.
Tourism and Trade Minister Don Farrell has not denied his alleged support for granting extra flights to Qatar Airways as a means of bolstering Australia’s tourism sector, which has struggled to recover to pre-pandemic levels. While Farrell reportedly privately endorsed the idea of providing Qatar Airways with additional landing rights, he has refrained from making public comments on the matter.
This comes as the Albanese government faces mounting pressure to elucidate its reasons for obstructing the airline’s expansion—a decision that potentially contributes to the perpetuation of high European ticket prices.
Source: Greek City Times