Judge ends women’s case against Qatar Airways over invasive examinations

11 April 2024, 13:24

A Qatar Airways jet
Australia Qatar Examinations. Picture: PA

The five women were among hundreds forcibly removed from airliners in Doha on October 2 2020.

An Australian court has rejected a case brought by five women seeking compensation from Qatar Airways over invasive gynaecological examinations conducted on passengers at Doha’s airport in 2020.

But the women’s case against the airport’s operator is still going ahead.

The five, whose identities have been concealed by the courts, were among hundreds of women forcibly removed from airliners in Doha on October 2 2020, as officials searched for the mother of a newborn baby found dumped in a terminal rubbish bin.

Thirteen women were removed from a flight to Sydney. Many said they were forced to undergo non-consensual gynaecological or intimate physical examinations.

Federal Court Justice John Halley ruled on Wednesday that the women’s argument against state-owned Qatar Airways did not meet international airline liability protocols.

“My conclusion that the exclusivity principle precludes the applicants from pursuing any claim for damages against Qatar Airways is a complete answer to the claims that the applicants seek to bring against Qatar Airways,” Judge Halley said.

The judge also said the women’s case against the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority could not go ahead. But the case against the Qatar Company for Airports Operation and Management (MATAR), the airport’s operator, could continue.

MATAR is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qatar Airways.

The women’s lawyer, Damian Sturzaker, said in a statement that his clients were considering an appeal.

“We note however that the claims against the airport operator, MATAR, remain on foot. Our clients’ resolve to continue to agitate their claims remains undiminished,” Mr Sturzaker said.

The case returns to court on May 10.

Australian transport minister Catherine King revealed last year that the examinations of passengers were part of the reason she had decided in June to refuse to allow Qatar Airways to increase its services to Australia.

Qatar Airways senior vice president Matt Raos told an Australian senate inquiry in September that such examinations of passengers would never be repeated.

“We’ve had nothing like it previously in our history and we’re completely committed to ensuring nothing like this ever happens again,” Mr Raos told the committee.

By Press Association

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