Qatar Airways launched daily flights between Sydney and its hub in Doha this week, promising the move will create 3000 jobs and add $240 million to the Australian economy.
The state-owned airline expects demand to be high on its 335-seat Boeing 777-300ER planes, and it plans to use its bigger Airbus A380 on the Sydney route during peak periods from June this year. Operating from Melbourne since 2009 and Perth since 2012, the airline will have doubled its capacity in Australia by the time it launches daily flights on its new Airbus A350 from Adelaide in May.
The expansion offers Australian passengers more choice, says Qatar Airways' group chief executive Akbar Al Baker, as well as "fine dining on demand" in business-class, award-winning service throughout and speedy connections at Doha's Hamad International Airport - he claims a minimum connection time of 25 minutes to the airline's 150 destinations.
Speaking in Sydney this week, Mr Al Baker suggested the airline would consider a fifth destination in Australia; though he didn't name it, Brisbane is the only major city not served by Qatar. He foreshadowed plans to introduce a patented "super" business-class seat on planes by December, a new economy-class seat "which will be the most comfortable in the world", and a third phase of expansion at the airline-operated airport at Doha, designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster.
Qatar Airways scrapped first-class cabins on most of its planes in 2007, and has no plans to introduce premium-economy seats. "I don't believe in having two classes in the economy section of the aircraft," Mr Al Akbar said. "The standard of service and the amenities that we provide are equal to any other airline's premium economy. I don't think there is any need for me to overcharge passengers and to just give them a concept that really is equal to the rest of economy class."