Etihad Airways is set to restart flights between Melbourne and London from 15 May, and the return leg from 21 May.
The new routes are available because Abu Dhabi, the airline’s base, is set to open up shortly for connecting flights, having been effectively closed for over a month.
The announcement comes after the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, said on Friday the government was to spend an extra $50 million on continuing its network of repatriation flights for another month.
That includes increasing underwritten London flights to twice weekly, and continuing to offer two flights to Los Angeles. However, services to Hong Kong and Auckland have been discontinued.
Previously, the only carrier offering commercial flights between London and Australia had been Qatar, which has soldiered on throughout the pandemic as part of its Taking You Home campaign offensive.
Deputy PM McCormack said, “We have seen a strong demand for these flights with Australians overseas taking advantage of the links to get home and we have been working closely with Qantas and Virgin Australia groups to ensure there is a continuing international air connection to London and Los Angeles.
“These airports are strategic hubs to help meet the remaining demand for Australians wanting get home from these destinations and surrounding regions.
“The London flights have been particularly successful so we have taken the decision to increase those from one weekly service to two weekly services. We are also maintaining the commitment of two weekly services to Los Angeles.”