QANTAS GROUNDS PERTH-LONDON FLIGHT, DELAYS TRAVEL TO EAST COAST
Qantas will ground its non-stop Perth-London flights until next April, with a direct service to the UK instead taking off from Darwin Airport once borders reopen.
It will also delay for two more months plans to restart flying from Western Australia to NSW or Victoria due to the former’s conservative border stance.
The plan is to run a Melbourne-Darwin-London service daily once stage 3 of the national reopening plan is reached. James Brickwood
Chief executive Alan Joyce said talks with the WA government had revealed there was little desire to open for international travel or to the eastern states before the end of the year.
“We know their borders won’t be open to NSW and Victoria until early next year, so we’ve sadly had to cancel the flying we had planned on those routes in the lead-up to Christmas,” Mr Joyce said.
“WA doesn’t intend to open to international travel until some time next year, so we’ll unfortunately have to temporarily move our Perth-London service until at least April 2022.”
The practical effect is that Perth has temporarily lost its non-stop flight to London, as the airline threatened last month to the protests of WA Premier Mark McGowan. Flights between WA and NSW or Victoria are also on ice for two months longer than predicted, and scheduled to now start in February.
Qantas will reroute the non-stop flight through Darwin Airport and is in talks with it and the Northern Territory government about what needs to happen to make this possible.
The plan is to run a Melbourne-Darwin-London service daily once Stage 3 of the national reopening plan is reached, which requires at least 80 per cent of the eligible population to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
If the flight cannot go through Darwin, Qantas will instead stop over in Singapore.
“This flight will operate from Melbourne to London via either Darwin or Singapore, depending on conversations we’re having with the NT in the coming weeks,” Mr Joyce said.
As for Victoria and NSW, Qantas has brought forward projections for the reopening of travel between the COVID-19-riddled states from December 1 to November 5.
Intrastate flying in NSW will also increase from October 25, in line with the state government’s latest road map.
“We’re in regular discussions with all the states and territories, and will continue to make adjustments, including increasing flying as soon as border settings allow,” Mr Joyce said.
‘Still on track’
“The pace of the vaccine rollout means we’re still on track for international flying to restart from 18 December onwards.”
Qantas saw a 175 per cent spike in web searches after announcing plans to restart international travel and has seen strong bookings in December and January.
Mr Joyce warned demand for international travel would hinge on quarantine requirements.
“The seven-day home quarantine trial in NSW is a great step forward,” he said.
“We’re hoping the system evolves quickly for vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries to not have to quarantine on arrival ... That’s fast becoming the standard between many countries overseas.”