A few minutes after midday on Friday, June 26, QF 71 pushed back from the gate at Perth Airport.
The flight’s departure – complete with ARFF water cannon salute – signalled the return of regularly scheduled Qantas international flights from the WA capital, with return services flying five days a week between Perth and Singapore.
The 168-seat Boeing 737-800 rostered to operate Friday’s flight was VH-XZP, the Qantas retrojet featuring the airline’s iconic ochre colour scheme first introduced in 1967. It was a full load for Friday’s departure, demonstrating a positive customer response to the airline’s decision to return to this route. And it wasn’t hard to notice the happy faces of airport staff at the sight of the aircraft at the gate, which added to a sense of excitement that prevailed among the passengers waiting to board.
One passenger boarding QF71 was Peter Campbell, a local West Australian who chooses to fly Qantas whenever he can. He said while he had been critical of Qantas’s 2014 decision to withdraw from Perth international services, he was delighted to see flights recommencing.
“When I heard Qantas was coming back to the route, I decided to put my money where my mouth is. So we booked a weekend break to Singapore in support of the new service,” Campbell told Australian Aviation prior to the flight.
At the airport to personally welcome passengers aboard the service was Qantas head of customer experience Nicholas Bull, who commented on the recent successes seen at the airline, including introducing the Airbus A330 business suite and re-establishing international services.
“The return of direct flights is great news for our customers who had let us know they wanted to see services recommence,” Bull said.
“Departures at this time of day will see passengers arrive in time for dinner, or to connect through our network to other Asian destinations.”
Qantas International chief executive Gareth Evans concurred with this analysis, commenting: “Our customers told us they missed us – so with the right strategy with the right aircraft on the right route, we’ve come back to meet that demand.”
“This is great news for tourism in Western Australia, with the route being promoted to more international customers than ever before,” Evans said.
The flight was scheduled to arrive in Singapore at 1720 Singapore time, with the return flight, QF72 departing at 1825 for a 2340 landing back in Perth.
Qantas’s Perth-Singapore flight has also been supported by the Flying Kangaroo’s airline partners, with eight carriers – Jet Airways, Finnair, British Airways, Emirates, Japan Airlines, China Eastern, Bangkok Airways and SriLankan – codesharing on the route.
Meanwhile, Qantas said on Friday there were now four refurbished A330s in its domestic fleet, enabling all overnight, or “red-eye” domestic services from Perth now flown with aircraft featuring its new business class seats.
Chris Frame is a Perth-based maritime historian, travel writer, author and lecturer.