Flight Centre boss backs more open skies deals at Qatar Airways Senate inquiry

The managing partner of Marque Lawyers, Michael Bradley – who is representing five women against the airline in the Federal Court after they were invasively searched at Doha Airport by Qatari Police in 2020 – said his clients maintained the government should not reverse its decision until they were compensated and the Qatar government improved its approach to human rights.


King has maintained the incident is not the reason the flights were not granted despite the women being advised before Qatar Airways and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Qatar Airways is yet to confirm when it will attend the inquiry, but a representative is expected to do so at some point over the next fortnight. Newly minted Qantas chief Vanessa Hudson and former longstanding airline boss Alan Joyce are also expected to be called. Qantas is the only known airline to have opposed the decision.

The Australian Travel Industry Association’s Dean Long said it was 90 per cent more expensive to fly to Greece in July than the same period in 2019, and 75 per cent more expensive to fly to the UK when compared to the same period before the pandemic.

Australia has nine passenger “open skies” agreements with other countries including China, India, US, UK and Singapore. All other governments, including Qatar, are required to apply for bilateral air service rights on behalf of their airlines when the carrier businesses want to increase their number of flights.


The Australian Travel Industry Association is one of many industry bodies which have called for an increase in the number of open skies agreements to lower the cost of airfares for passengers and increase airline competition.

Sydney Airport boss Geoff Culbert also expressed support for liberalising the country’s bilateral air rights, saying the current system was too reactionary, and it only catered for existing demand rather than future supply.

“For Australia as a market to be competitive relative to other destinations, airlines require longer-term certainty in accessing air rights on Australian routes,” Culbert said.

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