Australian minister says invasive examinations were part of reason Qatar Airways was refused flights

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Australian Infrastructure Minister Catherine King speaks during question time in Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. King has said invasive gynecological examinations conducted on 13 passengers at Doha’s international airport in 2020 was part of the reason she refused to allow Qatar Airways to double its services to Australia. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image via AP)
Image: ASSOCIATED PRESS

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Transport Minister Catherine King said on Thursday that invasive gynecological examinations conducted on passengers at Doha’s international airport in 2020 were part of the reason she refused to allow Qatar Airways to double its services to Australia.

King has faced intense questioning over why she decided on June 10 not to allow the airline to double its current 28 flights per week to Australia.

She said the decision was made in the “context” of women being examined in 2020 by authorities at Hamad International Airport in Doha who were trying to find the mother of a newborn baby found dumped in a trash can.

Women on a number of flights leaving Doha were invasively examined, including 13 on a flight to Sydney.

“There is no one factor that I would point to that swayed my decision one way or the other,” King told reporters.

“Certainly, for context, this is the only airline that has had something like that where that has happened,” she said.

“I was not not aware of it, so obviously it was in the context of the decision that I made. But there was no one factor that influenced this decision.” she added.

Qatar Airways and the Qatari government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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