The coronavirus pandemic has opened a new route for Qatar Airways, which will operate flights to Brisbane for the first time and increase services to Australia to help people get home.

The Doha-based carrier said on 26 March it will add 48,000 seats from 29 March and use larger aircraft like the Airbus A380 on these routes.

Doha is one of the few transit options left for people wishing to get to and from Australia and New Zealand after many countries moved to tighten border restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Qatar will fly daily from Doha to Brisbane using a Boeing 777-300ER, twice daily to Perth with an A380 and 777-300ER, and twice daily to Melbourne with an A350-1000 and 777-300ER. The carrier will fly three times a day to Sydney using an A350 and 777-300ER.

Previously, Qatar only flew to Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.

“We know there are many people who want to be with their families and loved ones during this difficult time,” Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker states.

“We are thankful to the Australian government, airports and staff for their support in helping us to add additional flights to get people home, and in particular, to bring flights to Brisbane.”

He adds that Qatar Airways is working with governments around the world and will add or reinstate more flights where it can. It currently operates around 150 daily flights to over 70 cities worldwide, he says.

The British High Commissioner to New Zealand, Laura Clarke says in an email to British nationals stuck in New Zealand that Qatar Airways has also added additional flights from Auckland to the UK via Doha.

Singapore Airlines has also agreed to operate a one-off flight on the Auckland-Singapore-London route on Sunday, Clarke writes in the email. As Singapore is currently closed to transit passengers, travellers will have to remain on the flight.