Major Airline Criticized For Exploitation of Legal Loophole

( – Qatar Airways was making “ghost flights” between Adelaide, Australia, and Melbourne, Australia, exploiting a loophole in the aviation laws in Australia.

The flights are referred to as “ghost flights” because the planes would take off with less than 10 percent of the 345-seat planes filled.

Qatar Airways was using the loophole by reporting Adelaide Airport as its take-off and landing location despite initially flying to Melbourne. By using the multi-leg trips, the airline was able to hide its low-passenger-count flights. The airline would make a stop in Melbourne but would then continue onto the city registered as its landing location with whatever remaining passengers were still onboard. Tickets were not available for domestic passengers to purchase for the final leg of the trip.

Qatar Airways also operates a direct flight from Doha to Adelaide Airport, which is a more popular flight for passengers, leaving the flight from Melbourne to Adelaide mostly empty.

The airline first began offering these trips in November 2022. The airline was exploiting the loophole as a way to get around its cap of 28 weekly trips into major airports in Australia, which includes the airport in Melbourne as well as the airports in Perth, Sydney, and Brisbane. The airline was able to make extra flights to Melbourne as the landing location was officially Adelaide Airport, which had no cap on flights since it was a minor airport.

This is not the first time that Qatar Airways exploited the loophole. The airline exploited the same loophole when it ran a daily service between Doha and Sydney. The airline would list the final landing destination as Canberra instead of Sydney.

According to a report by Bloomberg, the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport has started to make sure that both passengers and cargo are now allowed on flights between Adelaide and Melbourne.

This is not the first airline to run ghost flights. During the winter of 2021-2022, Lufthansa said it ran 18,000 empty flights to ensure the airline didn’t lose deals it had that gave its planes spots at major airports.

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