While many airlines have begun grounding all international flights due to the coronavirus outbreak, Qatar Airways has instead expanded its operations to Australia and added a brand new Doha-Brisbane route.
As part of their #TakingYouHome initiative, on Sunday the airline launched 28 additional flights to the main gateways of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. This means, there will be approximately 48,000 extra seats for stranded passengers wanting to get get home to Australia.
The new offering will include one daily flight from Doha to Brisbane, double the daily flights into Melbourne and Perth and triple the daily flights to Sydney. Meanwhile flights to Canberra and Adelaide have temporarily been suspended.
“We know there are many people who want to be with their families and loved ones during this difficult time. 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,” said Qatar Airways Group chief executive, his excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker.
As well as increased operations to Australia, Qatar Airways is operating 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,” Mr. Akbar Al Baker added.
According to the airline, they transported over 100,000 people home in the past seven days. Over three quarters of passengers who flew on Friday 27 March, being nationals returning to their country of origin.
However for those that are returning home to Australia, the government has enforced new rules that mean all recent arrivals must go into mandatory quarantine in hotels for a fortnight.
This comes after concerns that previous arrivals have not been adhering to the 14-day self-isolation requirements which has resulted in the over two-thirds of the nation’s confirmed coronavirus cases originating from people travelling overseas.
“States and territories will be quarantining all arrivals through our airports in hotels and other accommodation facilities for the two weeks of their mandatory self-isolation before they are able to return to their home,” Mr Morrison announced after a national cabinet meeting on Friday.
“If their home is in South Australia, or in Perth, or in Tasmania and they have arrived in Melbourne, they will be quarantining in Melbourne,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Australian Defence Force will help state law enforcement increase checks on passengers who arrived before the deadline, who are supposed to self-isolate for 14 days.