Qatar Airways is seeking to ditch the Canberra leg of its Doha-Sydney route, saying it is very "uneconomical" for the airline.
The airline has been allowed to operate twice daily flights to Sydney if the second flight continues on to a regional airport, in this case Canberra.
"The problem with Sydney is that if we fly the second daily frequency to Sydney, we have to extend it to Canberra," Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told Executive Traveller.
"That is very uneconomical for us, because we also have to leave the aircraft there for an extended period of time, so this is a very big financial drain - and we have no other alternative because we can only operate two flights to Sydney if we extend one to Canberra."
"We cannot bring passengers from Canberra to Sydney, we can only bring passengers in transit to carry them beyond Sydney from Canberra," Mr Al Baker said.
The issue has been raised by the airline during a bid for a permanent Brisbane service.
"We're hopeful that we'll be able to keep the daily service to Canberra but ... obviously, the recovery from the COVID pandemic disaster will take a bit of time," Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron said.
"It will be at least nine to 12 months before we have Singapore Airlines and possibly Qatar come back."
He said he was "very positive" Singapore Airlines would return in the next 12 months, and in the meantime the airport's focus was on domestic flights.
"We'd love to have direct flights to Sydney, to Port Macquarie, to Byron Bay and Newcastle and so on, but Sydney flights we're hoping will open up on the 29th of October when Canberra's lockdown ends, that's what we're hoping."
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