Qatar Airways increases flights to Australia, adds Brisbane route despite coronavirus

While other airlines around the world ground their fleets and suspend routes due to the coronavirus outbreak, one airline is not only continuing to fly to Australia - it is adding more flights.

Qatar Airways on Sunday added 28 additional flights to Australia, equivalent to 48,000 additional seats, and launched its first route between Doha and Brisbane.

The airline is now operating three flights a day from Doha to Sydney, two into Melbourne, two into Perth and one daily flight into Brisbane. The airline's Adelaide and Canberra routes are currently suspended.

The airlines group chief executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker said the airline was continuing to fly many Australians looking to get home from overseas.

"We know there are many people who want to be with their families and loved ones during this difficult time," he said. "We are thankful to the Australian Government, Airports and staff for their support in helping us to add additional flights to get people home, and in particular, to bring flights to Brisbane."

The airline is continuing to operate about 150 daily flights to 70 cities around the world.

"We continue to operate around 150 daily flights to more than 70 cities worldwide. Sometimes governments put in place restrictions that mean we simply cannot fly to a country. We are working closely with governments around the world, and wherever possible we will reinstate or add more flights."

From March 1 to 22, Qatar flew 13,458 Australians home, according to the airline. Last week, the airline said it had flown more than 100,000 passengers, with 72 per cent of those flying on March 24 returning to their country of origin.

Qatar Airways was named the world's best airline for the fifth time in last year's World Airline Awards.

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Australia has banned all international visitors from entering the country and from last Saturday night all Australian citizens arriving must go into quarantine.

Qantas and Virgin Australia have suspended all international flights and drastically cut domestic capacity. Other major airlines, such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines, have also temporarily suspended the majority of their flights.

Emirates announced the suspension of most flights last week but had planned to continue Australia flights and several other routes while demand remained. However, the United Arab Emirates government ordered the suspension of all passenger flights on Thursday.

Melbourne Airport's arrivals page on Monday showed just five international flights scheduled, while Sydney Airport had seven. Melbourne Airport confirmed that international passenger numbers were down 93 per cent compared to this time last year and domestic passenger numbers were down 95 per cent.

Data from travel analyst OAG showed the number of scheduled international flights globally had dropped 29 per cent last week compared to the same time last year. Australian flights had dropped 16 per cent.

Flights into some of the worst affected countries, like Spain and Italy, had dropped more than 75 per cent. However, the US was slow to reduce flying, with numbers down just five per cent. OAG's data may be lagging behind actual flight reductions and the decline in passenger numbers is likely much bigger, as many planes are currently flying with few passengers on board.

See also: Qantas drastically extends use-by on flight vouchers for cancellations

See also: Virgin flight attendant fights off tears during announcement on final flight

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