Australia’s national carrier has delayed its resumption of flights between Perth and the nation’s two biggest cities by another two months.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce announced on Monday domestic flying between Western Australia and Victoria and NSW would be delayed by another two months to February 1 next year due to their assumptions on border closures.
But in some good news for the airline, Mr Joyce also revealed the planned restart for travel between Victoria and NSW had been brought forward by about a months due to Victoria’s road map out of lockdown.
Mr Joyce said flights between the two states would now resume on November 5 instead of December 1.
Among the other announcements made by the airline on Monday was a significant increase in regional flights to about 40 per cent of pre-pandemic level within NSW from October 25 in line with the NSW government’s road map.
Qantas also said international flights were still on track to gradually restart from December 18 this year but the airline would temporarily reroute its flagship Perth to London service until at least April 2022 due to the latest WA border settings and assumptions.
They said discussions were underway for a daily Melbourne-Darwin-London service.
If the service can’t operate through Darwin, it will instead fly Melbourne-Singapore-London until at least April 2022.
The airline said a decision on the exact route was likely to be made within the next two weeks.
“It’s great to see plans firming up for some domestic borders opening given the success of the national vaccine rollout,” Mr Joyce said.
“We’re now planning to ramp up flying between Melbourne and Sydney, which is usually the second busiest air route in the world, almost a month earlier than expected.
“There are also a lot of regional destinations that will open up for the first time since June, which is great news for tourism as well as family and friends who can’t wait to see each other again.”
Mr Joyce said their discussions with the WA government had indicated their borders won’t be open to Victoria and NSW until early next year.
“We’ve sadly had to cancel the flying we had planned on those routes in the lead-up to Christmas,” he said.
Qantas 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.
Mr Joyce said the airline received a 175 per cent spike in web searches in the week after they announced their plans with strong bookings for December and January on flights to London, Los Angeles and Singapore.
He said there was no change to Qantas or Jetstar flights between WA, Tasmania, Northern Territory and South Australia and flights between WA and Queensland would increase once border restrictions are removed.