By James Wilkinson in Melbourne
Qatar Airways’ highly-anticipated first flight to Melbourne touched down at Tullamarine Airport from Doha on Sunday evening (Dec 6), marking the beginning of Australian operations for the Middle East airline.
Qatar Airways has launched Melbourne flights
Melbourne has become the 85th destination for the award-winning carrier and Victoria’s tourism minister Tim Holding said the arrival of Qatar Airways would provide a huge boost to the state’s tourism industry.
“The Brumby Government is working to increase international air services, which bring more tourists to Melbourne, boost our economy and create jobs for local people,” he said.
“More direct air services to Melbourne Airport help to bring more tourists to Victoria from overseas and also provide Victorians with access to more competitive international airfares, Holding said.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker led a high-profile contingent on the launch flight and said the airline was initially operating direct flights three times per week on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, before daily flights commence on January 1, 2010.
“We have been eagerly planning our entry into the Australian market for several years – and we are delighted to finally arrive here in Melbourne,” he said.
“We have been in Australia for a number of years as an offline carrier with a sales office in the heart of the city of Melbourne, but (the launch flight) marks an historic moment as we extend our 5-star hospitality to yet another Continent in our global network.
“We also look forward to starting flights to Sydney next year (and) we believe our award-winning 5-star hospitality across both our Business and Economy cabins will appeal to the Australian market and people from around the world for this much anticipated route.
“Australians are well travelled and we are delighted to facilitate travel to and from Melbourne to many cities worldwide via our Doha hub in Qatar, whether people are travelling on business or leisure,” he said.
Qatar’s new flights are expected provide a significant boost to Melbourne’s MICE industry, particularly with the large number of conferences set to be held in Victoria over the next 18 months.
The flights, operated by Boeing 777-200LR aircraft featuring 42 business and 217 economy class seats, will also provide corporate and incentive travel planners with another option for outbound travel to the Middle East and beyond.
The inaugural Qatar Airways flight to Doha was also the third launch for Melbourne in seven days, following V Australia‘s inaugural services to Los Angeles and Phuket from the Victorian capital last week.