Akbar al-Baker says he was shocked by the rejection given the airline was ‘so supportive of Australia’ through the pandemic.The Australian authorities’s resolution to dam Qatar Airways’s request for additional flights to Australia was “very unfair”, the airline’s CEO Akbar al-Baker has informed CNN in an interview.
“We discovered it to be very unfair [for] our official request to be not granted, particularly at a time once we had been so supportive of Australia,” al-Baker mentioned, including that he was “very shocked” on the resolution.
“[We were] repatriating their stranded residents from around the globe to and out of Australia, serving to them obtain medical provides and spare components and many others. through the COVID-19 interval,” al-Baker mentioned. “The nationwide service and its companions utterly stopped working in Australia. We had been there for the individuals of Australia.”
The Doha-based airline had requested to fly an additional 21 companies into Australia’s main airports. However Australia’s Transport Minister Catherine King in July formally rejected its bid so as to add flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, saying the proposal was not in Australia’s pursuits.
In the course of the pandemic, Qatar Airways flights to Australia continued, transporting as few as 20 individuals per flight, whereas flights from Qantas, Australia’s nationwide airline, had been grounded.
Earlier this week, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles mentioned he was not consulted when the nation’s transport minister determined to dam Qatar Airways’s request.
Final week King, the transport minister, mentioned that “the context” for her resolution to not grant Qatar Airways extra flights was linked to invasive physique searches carried out on a gaggle of Australian girls at Doha’s Hamad Worldwide Airport in Qatar.
In October 2020, greater than a dozen feminine passengers had been subjected to “invasive” and “humiliating” inner exams in Qatar after a new child toddler was discovered deserted on the airport.
King’s resolution confronted intense political scrutiny and she or he was accused of defending Qantas, whose former chief government, Alan Joyce, claimed that permitting Qatar the additional capability would “distort” the native aviation market.
The airline, which has admitted to lobbying in opposition to the Qatar Airways bid, has additionally confronted criticism over a sequence of current controversies, together with allegations it bought about 8,000 tickets for flights it knew had already been cancelled.
Public anger in direction of the Australian service – which controls greater than 60 p.c of the home market – culminated in the stepping down of Joyce.
The chief of the Nationwide Celebration of Australia and chair of a authorities inquiry into the choice to dam Qatar Airways’s request, Bridget McKenzie, brazenly accused the federal government of protectionism.
“I consider they’re operating a safety racket for Qantas,” McKenzie mentioned whereas chatting with Sky Information.