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.
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.