Qatar Airways vows no more invasive gynaecological exams on passengers
A senior Qatar Airways executive has promised an Australian Senate investigation that the upsetting episode at Doha's international airport won't happen again in 2020. Invasive gynecological exams were performed on female passengers during the incident.
Qatar Airways executive Statment
These tests were taken into consideration when Australian Transport Minister Catherine King decided not to allow the airline to operate any more flights to Australia.
Matt Raos, Senior Vice President for Global Sales at Qatar Airways, described the 2020 incident as "a one-off incident, a very extreme incident." He emphasized the airline's commitment to ensuring such an event never happens again. Raos was responding to Senator Tony Sheldon, who sought a guarantee on behalf of female passengers concerned about potential mistreatment.
Limited Details Raos refrained from providing specific details about the incident due to ongoing litigation. Five women are currently suing the airline in the Australian Federal Court, and Qatar Airways is participating in that process. Raos stated, "The outcome of that Federal Court case is something that we will honor and abide."
Background of Lawsuit
The five Australian women, whose identities are protected by a court order, allege they were forcibly removed from a flight to Sydney in Doha and subjected to searches without their consent. They claim Qatar Airways did not respond to their complaints or offer an apology.
Passenger Safety and Dignity
The women penned a letter to Catherine King in June, imploring her to turn down Qatar Airways' request to quadruple its flights to Australia. They voiced concerns about how the airline handled its passengers and how it hadn't done enough to protect their safety and dignity. "We beg you to consider Qatar Airways' insensitive and irresponsible treatment of us and its failure to ensure the safety and dignity of its passengers," the statement read. Qatar Airways is requesting additional landing rights.
Qatar Airways' Response
Raos expressed Qatar's surprise and shock at Australia's rejection of its application for additional services to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. The application was submitted in August 2022. The airline learned of Australia's decision through the news media on July 10 and received official notification from the Australian government 10 days later.
Qatar Airways argued that the additional services would have brought Australia AUD 3 billion ($1.9 billion) in economic benefits over five years.
Context of Decision
Catherine King emphasized that her decision was made in the context of women's complaints about their treatment. She stated, "There is no one factor that I would point to that swayed my decision one way or the other."
Air Service Agreements
The Senate committee is currently examining various bilateral air service agreements involving Australia.