Qantas says it plans to use Darwin to operate services between London and Perth as uncertainty persists over whether some international flights from Australia will reopen.
The airline said if it plans to gradually restart international services from December 18, 2021, when Australia is expected to have reached an 80% vaccination threshold, it is pushing back its direct Perth-London service to at least until ‘in April 2022 due to current expectations for the lifting of restrictions in Western Australia (WA). Rather, it will review the routing of daily Melbourne-London services via Darwin and is in “detailed discussions” with the Northern Territory government and Darwin Airport.
Qantas has used Darwin as a hub for repatriation flights to various destinations in Europe, Asia and the Middle East for the past 12 months.
If the talks do not bear fruit, the airline says it will instead route Melbourne-London services via Singapore.
Services between London and Sydney via Singapore are scheduled to resume on December 19.
Domestically, the airline plans to restore services between Melbourne and Sydney from November 5, nearly a month ahead of schedule.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: âAt this point WA has no plans to open up to international travel until next year, so unfortunately we will have to temporarily move our Perth-London service to ‘in at least April 2022. to operate from Melbourne to Perth, then to London as usual, this flight will operate from Melbourne to London via Darwin or Singapore, depending on the conversations we have with the NT in the coming weeks. We look forward to operating this flight again via Perth when circumstances permit.
âThe pace of the vaccine rollout means we are still on track for international flights to restart from December 18. People are clearly eager to travel. We saw a 175% increase in web searches in the week after announcing our plans and we saw strong bookings for December and January for our flights to London, Los Angeles and Singapore in particular.
âThe key factor in determining the level of continued demand for international flights will be what the quarantine arrangements will be for Australians upon their return. The seven-day home quarantine trial in New South Wales is a big step forward and we hope the system evolves quickly so that vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries do not have to go. quarantine on arrival, especially as Australia itself is on track to having one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. It is fast becoming the norm among many overseas countries.