Covid-19 Australia: Why Qantas will no longer fly its non-stop route to London via Perth

Qantas will replace Perth as the airline’s point of departure for its lucrative non-stop flights to London in response to Western Australia’s strict Covid border rules.

The airline said it is considering using Darwin as a hub for the route from December, when it expects 80 percent of Australians to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and the international border to reopen.

WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan has stated that he plans to keep his state’s border closed even if Australia reaches that vaccination coverage level.

Qantas’ ability to fly non-stop between Australia and London is expected to be even more in demand after Covid,” an airline spokesman said on Thursday.

Qantas has said it plans to replace Perth as the departure point for its non-stop flights from Australia to London due to WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan's strict Covid border policy

Qantas has said it plans to replace Perth as the departure point for its non-stop flights from Australia to London due to WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan’s strict Covid border policy

Qantas said it is considering using Darwin as a hub for the route from December, when it expects 80 percent of Australians to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and the international border to reopen

Qantas said it is considering using Darwin as a hub for the route from December, when it expects 80 percent of Australians to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and the international border to reopen

Qantas said it is considering using Darwin as a hub for the route from December, when it expects 80 percent of Australians to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and the international border to reopen

The airline is exploring the use of Darwin as a transit point, which was Qantas’ main entry point for repatriation flights, as an alternative (or in addition to) its existing Perth hub, given conservative border policies in Western Australia.

“Discussions on this option are still ongoing.”

Qantas began offering the first non-stop flights to London from the WA capital in March 2018 – a 15,000km journey that takes 17 hours.

The announcement came as Qantas unveiled plans to restart international flights from December 2021 — just in time for Australia’s Christmas tour.

Qantas said it expected the country to meet its 80 percent vaccination target by December, leading to the reopening of international borders as part of “Phase C” of the federal government’s path to pandemic normality.

The first available itineraries are to high-vaccination destinations including the United States, Canada, the UK, Singapore, Japan and New Zealand, Qantas told the Australian Securities Exchange.

On August 16, residents of Darwin are seen wearing masks.  Qantas said it is considering using the city's airport as a starting point for the non-stop route

On August 16, residents of Darwin are seen wearing masks.  Qantas said it is considering using the city's airport as a starting point for the non-stop route

On August 16, residents of Darwin are seen wearing masks. Qantas said it is considering using the city’s airport as a starting point for the non-stop route

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the rapid rollout of vaccinations in Australia would allow international holiday travel for the first time in nearly two years, despite lockdowns in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

“The prospect of flying abroad may seem a long way off, especially with New South Wales and Victoria in lockdown, but the current pace of vaccine roll-out means we should have a lot more freedom in a few months’ time.” , he said.

“It is clear to the government how and when our international borders will reopen, but with Australia on track to reach the 80 per cent threshold agreed by the national cabinet by the end of the year, we need to plan ahead for what a complex reboot process.’

Qantas International Travel Plan

MIDDLE OF DECEMBER: Singapore, United States, Japan, United Kingdom and Canada with Boeing 787s

New Zealand as travel bubble reopens with Australia

Airbus A330s and 737s and A320s for services to Fiji

FEBRUARY 2022: Hong Kong

APRIL 2022: Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg

APRIL 2022: Budget subsidiary Jetstar resumes international flights

JULY 2022: Sydney to Los Angeles on A380s

NOVEMBER 2022: Sydney to London via Singapore with Darwin instead of Perth as possible transit point

The airline said flights to cities with low vaccination coverage and high numbers of Covid-19 cases will not restart until April 2022.

Those destinations include Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg.

Australians have been banned from traveling abroad for holidays since March 2020, when the pandemic began, and had to obtain approval from the Australian Border Force for compassionate or business reasons.

Qantas posted an after-tax loss of $1.728 billion for the year ended June 30.

Australians have been banned from traveling abroad for holidays since March 2020, when the pandemic began, and had to obtain approval from the Australian Border Force for compassionate or business reasons.  Qantas posted an after-tax loss of $1.728 billion for the year to June 30

Australians have been banned from traveling abroad for holidays since March 2020, when the pandemic began, and had to obtain approval from the Australian Border Force for compassionate or business reasons.  Qantas posted an after-tax loss of $1.728 billion for the year to June 30

Australians have been banned from traveling abroad for holidays since March 2020, when the pandemic began, and had to obtain approval from the Australian Border Force for compassionate or business reasons. Qantas posted an after-tax loss of $1.728 billion for the year to June 30

With international holidays banned and state borders closed, the airline relied on its cargo operations to survive with overseas cargo, a surprisingly lucrative source of income in fiscal year 2021.

“Demand for air cargo capacity remained extremely strong in FY21 due to an increase in online shopping in the Australian market and the lost belly space due to the cancellation of most international passenger flights,” said Qantas.

“Qantas Freight was able to respond to this demand and deliver record profits that significantly offset the costs of the Group’s international operations.”

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