A Qatar Airways plane. Picture for illustrative purposes only.


Qatar Airways says women forced off plane due to police search

Qatar Airways clarified at the Sydney federal court on Friday (August 4) that the forcible removal of more than a dozen women from its airplane was a police action and not an airline decision.

This came as the case filed by five Australian women against the airline and its subsidiary Matar, which runs Doha airport, was heard before the federal court in Sydney. Qatar Airways is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed.

The lawsuit stems from an October 2020 incident at Doha airport where more than a dozen women were escorted off a Qatar Airways plane by armed guards, and then intimately examined without consent as authorities searched for the mother of a newborn baby found abandoned in a plastic bag at Hamad International Airport.

The women were reportedly forced to undergo invasive examinations for evidence that they had recently given birth. One passenger was reportedly forced to undergo a strip-search while holding her baby.

Five Australian women are seeking physical and moral damages over “unlawful physical contact” following the incident. Qatar Airways and Matar are seeking to prove that the men in uniform who conducted the examinations were Qatari police and not agents of the airline.

The matter is being heard in an Australian court because Australia and Qatar are signatories of the Montreal convention, which governs airline liability around the world. Under the Montreal convention, a lawsuit can be brought before the courts in the jurisdiction where a passenger lives.

The Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, which is attached to the lawsuit, is separately seeking a stay on the basis of sovereign immunity. ICA/Expat Media

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