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QF1 Sydney-London will fly via Darwin, not Singapore

written by Hannah Dowling | March 24, 2020

Qantas has temporarily diverted its flagship route, the Sydney-London QF1, to fly via Darwin rather than Singapore, as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue to affect the aviation services industry.

The change will impact the return route also, the QF2 from London to Sydney, now returning via Darwin, and has been brought on by strict travel restrictions implemented by the Singaporean government.

The decision will see the first-ever non-stop flight from Darwin to London, according to Qantas, making Darwin the second Australian city to see a non-stop flight to the UK.

However, the feat is only temporary, as Qantas intends to ground its entire international fleet from April, after making special provisions to bring trapped Australian’s home from overseas.

The Sydney to London route will now depart from Sydney Kingsford Smith at 6:00pm and arrive at Darwin International at 9:15pm to refuel, before taking off for London Heathrow at 11:00pm. The flight will land in the UK capital at 6:15am the following morning.


The return flight, QF2, will depart from London at 10:15pm, and fly directly to Darwin, landing at 11:55pm local time. Again, after refuelling, the A380 will depart at 1:15am, to land in Sydney at 7:00am.

The flight changes were necessary due to the restrictions imposed by the Singaporean government, in an attempt to curb the rapid global spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, earlier this week, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce pledged to maintain a handful of international flights to bring stranded Australians home.

A file image of Darwin Airport. (Australian Aviation archive)
Darwin Airport (Australian Aviation archive)

Speaking to ABC’s Leigh Sales, Joyce said, “We’re just going through those details with the government at the moment.

“There could be some international operations that will go past the end of March.”

The Australian government has banned all non-residents from arriving into Australia, a decision echoed by many governments around the world, causing many airlines to ground their fleet.

Joyce labelled the COVID-19 crisis as “the worst crisis the aviation industry has been through”, and stated it will have huge economic implications both for the industry and the global economy.

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Comments (12)

  • Bernard


    Like it, Should be a permanent route change. Maybe change the Perth to London to Perth to Frankfurt?

  • Adrian P


    Does any body remember me posting about building a port of entry/international hub around Broome/Port Hedland because most international flights travel over that area. Would give regional Australians more direct routing and non stop Australia to Europe.

  • Marcus


    My prediction moving forward is that there will be an immediate reluctance for people to fly via hubs… direct point to point will become more the norm…

  • Janice


    I think this is a great idea and should become the norm.
    Why would you fly via countries that are high Risk regardless.
    I’m sure moving forward to kick start our economic growth after this should prioritise Australia.

  • Jennifer Taylor


    I would find this an alternative. Am in New Zealand now and can’t get home.

  • Ken


    Qantas is the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service. As such it should fly Singapore to Darwin to Brisbane, as it used to, with Sydney as a domestic afterthought.

  • Edward Tremethick


    I thought it was planned to be Sydney to Perth to London from the 2oth April? Why Darwin all of a sudden? Why not just swap it earlier to Perth?

  • Edward Tremethick


    I thought it originally was planned to be Sydney to Perth to London from the 2oth April? Why Darwin all of a sudden? Why not just swap it earlier to Perth?

  • Peter


    I’m thinking it’s because they have to run the 380 to fit more pax. And the 380 won’t last the distance from Perth. I may be wrong though…

  • Peter


    Edward. Read the news article. You will be able to answer your own questions.

  • Peter


    Can I remind everyone the Federal Government approved the Darwin Airport Master Plan a few years ago, a 20-year blueprint of how the airport will be affected by and manage issues such as aviation growth and the rise of Darwin Airport as an international transit point between Australia, Asia and Europe.

  • As coordinator of the Smith Centenary Celebration Group of the Aviaiton Historical Society of Australia NSW I tried to get QANTAS to make such a flight to arrive Darwin 10 December 1919, 100 years after Ross and Keith Smith and crew completed the epic flrst flight from England to Darwin, which took 29 days.. No response – but maybe QANTAS might remind passengers of the significance of this flight. QANTAS itself was formed less than a year later as a direct result of the heightened awareness of aviation caused by this flight. I will be interested to read the exact time to be taken on this flight 100 years later. Interesting that QANTAS wanted no part of the celebraiton or recognition of thecelebration flight across Australia, completed March 23 in Adelaide, 100 years after the Smiths reached their home town.

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