Just six months after launching flights to Sydney – Qatar Airways launches Doha to Sydney route – Qatar Airways has upgraded the route to an A380 service.
The Doha-based airline now operates the 517-seat A380 daily to Sydney. It has boosted capacity on the route by no less than 44 per cent compared with the B777-300ER.
From the passengers’ viewpoint the A380 is a quieter, roomier aircraft in all classes, and, unlike its B777-300ERs, Qatar Airways configures the A380 with a first class cabin.
Its A380 is configured for eight seats in first, 48 in business and 461 in economy class.
According to the publicity blurb, Qatar Airways says the A380 has been introduced to meet “increased passenger demand”.
But in truth Qatar Airways had to introduce the A380 otherwise it would have been overshadowed by Gulf rivals Emirates and Etihad, both of whom already operate the superjumbo into Sydney.
Flight schedules on qatarairways.com are currently: *
QR908 Doha-Sydney 2215-1915 (following day)
QR 909 Sydney-Doha 2225-0505 (following day)
The flight is scheduled to take 14 hrs for Doha-Sydney and 14 hrs 40 mins for Sydney-Doha.
As might be expected there is a multitude of connections available between Doha and the UK and mainland Europe. Check the timetable and you will see that some services will be rostered for the airline’s A380 flagship or its newest aircraft, the twin-engined A350.
However, Qatar Airways’ arrival on the route is not good news for British Airways (the sole European carrier flying to Australia) and its Asian rivals.
Why? Because Sydney is becoming oversupplied with airline seats and this will result in ever keener fares… good news for passengers but not good news for airlines.
What I also find interesting is that all three Gulf carriers have business-friendly schedules out of Sydney.
They all depart in the evening. Traditionally kangaroo route carriers have departed at tea-time, which affords the best (socially acceptable) schedules and meets airport curfews both in Sydney and at the main European hubs.
But there are no such concerns at the Gulf hubs owing to their location astride the kangaroo route and the fact they operate 24 hours a day.
So with Qatar Airways (and with Emirates/Etihad) business travellers get an entire working day before departing Australia.
On the downside, they must take care not to run foul of the Sydney curfew.
Sydney has one of the strictest curfews – stricter even than at Frankfurt, where many airlines were recently forced to overnight 7,000 passengers.
It is not such a problem with Etihad but Qatar Airways’ departure time of 2225 is rather close for comfort to Sydney’s 2300 curfew.
In previous years it was a problem for Emirates who, at one stage, risked a fine of A$550,000 for breaking the curfew.
It then prompted Emirates to suspend late evening departures – though they have since been restored.
Let’s hope a more enlightened attitude will prevail.
*There will be minor schedule changes for the winter schedules.