International flights will return to the national capital with Qatar Airways resuming its Australian services in October.
The once-daily connection will restart between Doha and Canberra, via Melbourne, on 1 October.
Flights from Doha will arrive in Canberra at 12:50 am daily after a short stopover in Melbourne and depart Canberra for Doha at 2:30 pm via Melbourne.
Canberra passengers will collect their luggage and clear customs and immigration in Canberra.
The Canberra connection has been restored thanks to Qatar adding an extra service to its Melbourne schedule, operated by the Boeing 777-300ER, featuring its award-winning QSuite Business Class.
Come October the airline will operate a total of 40 weekly flights to Australia to six destinations – Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Sydney.
The resumption of services in October is timely as it will give Canberra football fans an easy flight to attend the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December 2022.
The news comes as Canberra Airport passenger numbers bounce back from the COVID-19 travel restrictions to over 80 per cent capacity.
Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron said Qatar’s return to Canberra would mean more to travellers than just the daily service.
Mr Byron said the resumption of daily services would give more than a million people who reside in the Canberra region direct access to Qatar Airways’ global network of more than 150 destinations.
“It also means that travellers from all over the world will have the opportunity to come and experience what Canberra and the surrounding region have to offer,” he said
“The recommencement of the Qatar Airways service in October is an important milestone for our business and our city. We are a truly internationally connected city once again.”
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the announcement from Qatar was the strongest signal yet that the region’s tourism industry was bouncing back.
“It’s great news for Canberrans wanting to travel overseas, particularly to Europe, the United Kingdom and the Middle East, and it’s a huge boost to our local tourism industry,” Mr Barr said.
He said the ACT Government had continued to talk with domestic and international airlines to recommence flights or to enter the market as soon as possible.
“We have achieved a lot of objectives in our recent economic recovery in recent months, with Jetstar commencing very popular services as well as Link and Rex announcing new routes,” he said.
Mr Barr said that before the pandemic the combined efforts of the Canberra Airport Group (CAG) and the government were in full swing to attract more carriers to Canberra.
“International flights mean more travellers to our city, which is a win for local businesses who benefit from increased tourism, and more airlines are a win for Canberrans who want to travel and businesses that want to export,” he said.
“Qatar’s return is a welcome vote of confidence in Canberra and the region, an acknowledgement that our market offers close to a million outbound travellers,” Mr Barr said.
The government continues to lobby for direct flights to New Zealand, and the Qatar move could also spur Singapore Airlines to resume its Canberra service.
Canberra Airport’s Head of Aviation Michael Thomson said it was hoped that Singapore Airlines would be back in Canberra in the next six to 12 months. The Airport was looking to establish services to New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Mr Thomson said Canberra was more connected than ever with seven airlines serving 13 domestic destinations, including Coff Harbour from 22 September, and from 1 October, one international destination.
“This is more than double what we were servicing pre-pandemic, and our flight schedule continues to increase,” he said.
“Travel has never been more accessible, and you can now enjoy the airport terminal mask-free.”
The Airport’s new airline partners are Link Airways, REX and Jetstar, while new destinations are Darwin, Cairns, Sunshine Coast, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Hobart.