Qantas has scrapped the Perth-London non-stop flight until April next year and is delaying the restart of some domestic flights out of WA based on assumptions around border restrictions.
The airline will continue to operate five return flights a week between Perth and both Sydney and Melbourne to maintain minimum connections for those with permits to travel — but will delay the full restart of flights on those routes by two months to February 1, 2022.
However, there are no changes to Qantas or Jetstar flights between WA, Tasmania, Northern Territory, and South Australia.
While the Federal Government has flagged international flights will gradually restart from December 18 as Australia reaches the National Cabinet’s ‘phase C’ vaccination threshold of 80 percent, Qantas said it will temporarily re-route its flagship Perth-London service until at least April 2022 due to WA border settings.
Qantas says it is in detailed discussions with the NT Government and Darwin Airport to discuss landing the direct London flight in Darwin.
If the service can’t operate through Darwin, it will instead fly from Melbourne via Singapore to London until at least April 2022.
Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said it was “great to see plans firming up for some domestic borders opening given the success of the national vaccine roll-out”.
“Based on our discussions with Western Australia we know their borders won’t be open to New South Wales 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,” he said.
“We will maintain a minimum service for people with permits to travel, as we have throughout the pandemic.
“At this stage, WA doesn’t intend to open to international travel until sometime next year, so we’ll, unfortunately, have to temporarily move our Perth-London service until at least April 2022.”
But Mr. Joyce added, “we look forward to operating this flight via Perth again when circumstances allow”.
He said the “key factor in determining the ongoing demand level for international flying will be what the quarantine arrangements are for Australians when they return”.
“The seven-day home quarantine trial in New South Wales is a great step forward and we’re hoping the system evolves quickly for vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries to not have to quarantine on arrival,” he said.
“Particularly given Australia itself is on track to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. That’s fast becoming the standard between many countries overseas.”
A McGowan Government spokesperson said they looked forward to the Perth to London direct flight returning “when it is safe to do so”.
“Qantas has advised the State Government that this is just a short-term, temporary arrangement,” she said.
“In time, when it’s safe and our vaccination rate is high enough, it will be safe for the Perth-London route to resume, as well as travel from Sydney and Melbourne.”