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Qantas officially reroutes London-Perth service over WA’s hard border

written by Hannah Dowling | September 27, 2021
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNA arrives in Melbourne on October 27 2017. (Victor Pody)
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNA arrives in Melbourne on October 27 2017. (Victor Pody)

Qantas has announced a slew of changes to its flying schedule in light of the current state of domestic borders, delaying all services from Western Australia to the eastern states until February, and putting the flagship London-Perth service on hold.

Qantas has confirmed that it will “temporarily” reroute its flagship London-Perth service until “at least” April 2022, and is currently in discussions with the Northern Territory government and Darwin Airport to facilitate a new direct service via Darwin.

The airline previously suggested that it might opt to re-route its direct flights between Australia and London via Darwin, as opposed to Perth, in light of Western Australia’s “conservative border policies”.

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“The discussions for what would be a daily Melbourne-Darwin-London service focus on the logistics of domestic and international transit under the current NT government Plan for COVID-Management at Stage 3 of the National Plan,” Qantas said in a statement.

“If this service can’t operate through Darwin, it will instead fly Melbourne-Singapore-London until at least April 2022. A decision on the exact routing is likely to be made within the next two weeks.”

Qantas has also pushed back its planned return to regular passenger services between Western Australia and the eastern states of NSW and Victoria by two months to 1 February 2022, “based on border assumptions”.

The airline said it 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.

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It comes as WA Premier Mark McGowan continues to suggest that he will maintain the hard border with both NSW and Victoria until at least early next year, until at least 90 per cent of the entire WA population has been fully vaccinated.

“Based on our discussions with Western Australia we know their borders won’t be open to New South Wales and Victoria until early next year, so we’ve sadly had to cancel the flying we had planned on those routes in the lead-up to Christmas,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.

“We will maintain a minimum service for people with permits to travel, though, as we have throughout the pandemic.”

Despite recent rumours suggesting Queensland’s government could take a similar stance, Qantas has not made any dramatic changes in its planned schedule, however will “adjust” said schedule as needed.

Qantas has also brought forward the return of regular passenger services between Victoria and NSW from 1 December to 5 November 2021, off the back of Victoria’s roadmap.

Meanwhile, the return of international flights is “still on track” to gradually restart from 18 December, “when Australia is expected to have reached national cabinet’s ‘Phase C’ vaccination threshold of 80 per cent”, Qantas said in a statement.

“People are clearly keen to travel,” Joyce said, adding that the airline saw a 175 per cent increase in web searches in the week after it announced its plans to restart international services from December.

“The key factor in determining the ongoing demand level for international flying will be what the quarantine arrangements are for Australians when they return,” Joyce added.

“The seven-day home quarantine trial in New South Wales is a great step forward and we’re hoping the system evolves quickly for vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries to not have to quarantine on arrival, particularly given Australia itself is on track to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

“That’s fast becoming the standard between many countries overseas.”

11 Comments

  • Warwick

    says:

    Good planning by QANTAS to do this.

    And it won’t be the only business that will no longer use WA for the foreseeable future.
    It’ll probably find the new routing more lucrative, due proximity to eastern seaboard huge populace of travellers’, most happy to go up to DRW, & onwards, other than the seat-numbing via PER route lengthy time.

    Its’ premier has gotten badly bitten by the ‘power hungry’ bug, to the point of going against our Constitution of allowing free passage for citizens’ of this Country between States.

    Does not the Fed Govt have the power to override such idiocy?

    • Rocket

      says:

      s92 Provides that trade, commerce and intercourse between the states, whether by means of internal carriage or via sea, shall be absolutely free….

      BUT…….

      s118 requires that all states and the commonwealth must give full faith and credit to the acts, regulations, laws, judicial proceedings and public records of other states.

      Those are not the exact wording(s), however, the fact is s92 is really about trade and commerce essentially and while there is some basis for what you say, s118 (commonly called the ‘full faith and credit clause’ as an essentially identical clause appears in the US Constitution, from which ours was substantially modelled) means that if an individual State makes a law based on health or quarantine regulations, referring to its internal borders (i.e. the jurisdiction over which it has power to legislate/govern) then every other State and the Commonwealth must recognise that.

      This clause is the reason why if you go away on a family holiday, your child can continue to drive supervised by you on a learner’s permit from your home state, in another state and indeed, it’s why we can drive across the country, because the ‘other’ State(s) must recognise your registration, insurance and licences.

      • Anthony

        says:

        Virtually every country in the world has secondary political divisions (states. provinces, whatever). What is so different about Australia that we need to implement internal border controls? The only other country that to my knowledge has done anything like this is Malaysia, in the case of Sabah and Sarawak. Even if there are others, why are we so different from US, DE, MX, CA, FR, etc. that justifies the insane cruelty of internal border controls? The virus has nothing do with state borders. If there’s an outbreak in a given area the necessary controls should be applied to that area in terms of restricting travel within and beyond, but state borders are irrelevant.

        • Rocket

          says:

          What we have done here is possible in the USA, if say, California decided to close itself off.

          I suggest in asking why, perhaps look at the Covid infections and deaths per capita in those other countries, particularly the USA and compare it with ours.

          People need to take a chill pill, the vaccination rates are rising, we will emerge from this and all the blather about long term debt, etc. is irrelevant, even with what we’ve spent so far we still have one of the lowest levels of debt vs GDP in the Western world and the long term economic growth after we exit the pandemic will reduce that in percentage terms.

          The government should however, provide support to business to get through this period – unfortunately, except for JobKeeper and a few other programs, we have a government at the moment with the wrong ideology to handle this. You know, the guys that endlessly criticised the opposition for what it spent during the GFC which strangely enough saw us as the ONLY Western economy to come through unscathed, but has now spent an enormous amount more and much of it with no strings attached (witness big companies who have kept their job keeper to add to their bottom line, who, because of the nature of their business/sector, such as big retailers, were making a killing during this pandemic anyway).

  • Great move by Qantas to cancel its YMML to YPPH and then on to EGLL direct service in favour of a YMML to YPDN then direct to EGLL. Also I totally agree with Qantas stopping all but one flight a day from YPPH to YMML and likewise YPPH to YSSY. Indeed I would have thought that in fact if WA citizens intend their State should remain closed off from the rest of the country effectively indefinitely then they should have to transit via YMML or YSSY if they wanted to fly to either EGLL, WSSS or VHHK

  • chris

    says:

    Yes, the ALP Premiers of our two largest states (by area) have cynically worked out what works best for them electorally. I think the NSW Health Minister put it best last month when he stressed that our country is supposed to be “a Commonwealth”.

    • Ezza

      says:

      Isn’t that what Premiers of whatever color do ? What works politically. The irony is that if Gladys in particular had managed to achieve what Mark and Anastacia have, then the borders would not be so “hard”!!

    • Rocket

      says:

      Well, then perhaps the NSW Health Minister should actually READ the Constitution o the Commonwealth of Australia – s118 requires all States and the Commonwealth to give full faith and credit to the acts, regulations, laws, judicial proceedings and public records of all other States.

      We are a ‘Commonwealth’ heavily based in our Federal/State compact via a written constitution modelled on the US federal system – it’s why our Senate is set up similar to theirs (staggered elections) and why our lower house is called the House of Representatives, etc.

      Being a Commonwealth means the Federal Government gets responsibility for specific ‘national’ matters while the States are free to exercise their legislative power within their own borders. Any State can pass regulations for any reason within their ambit – i.e. not denied to them by the constitution in assigning a power to the Commonwealth exclusively – e.g. WA can impose regulations based on its health and state quarantine power within its own borders, but can’t start its own navy or air force or raise its own army. This is how federation works.

      The same constitutional provisions that allow the States to do this (in what is, let’s face it, a once in a century occurrence) are the same provisions that mean you don’t have to get a license in every State to drive your car across the country or why your kids can share the driving on L plates on an interstate holiday even though their learners permit was issued in another State – ditto you don’t have to change your license plates at the border.

      There’s no need to make this political – but if you want to, the federal LIBERAL government stuffed up in its quarantine power in allowing the Ruby Princess to dock, which sent almost an entire infected ship’s passengers all over the country, ditto vaccines, etc. Victoria has come out of lockdown and opened up several times but only closed when NSW got out of control or there were substantial outbreaks elsewhere.

      McGowan, while we may think he takes it too far, just fought an election on his Covid response and closed borders and if I remember correctly he fell just short of a majority in the State Upper House and won something like 52 of the 59 seats in the lower house, leaving 2 Liberals and 3 Nationals and making the Nationals the opposition.

  • Justin

    says:

    It’s quite a laugh when people who aren’t from Qld or WA want to have a say about how bad the state governments are, sorry you guys had to endure the good part of the last 6 months locked in doors, due to our hard working state governments I’ve been able to enjoy the freedom of being able to go out for Dinner, seeing my friends, going to events, and believe it or not, 2 of the countries biggest sporting events were held in each state due to the little exposure of covid due to these tough border restrictions. Perth losing a couple of flights I’d assume is no skin of their nose, due to the fact they have the busiest FIFO airport in the country which is probably doing more movements per month at the moment then what Sydney and Melbourne have had all year combined..

  • Nicholas

    says:

    I’d say this is Karma at its best.

    In a fair world WA would just be cut off and left to stew in its smugness. The fact that the AFL Grand Final was held in Perth was a travesty of monumental proportions.

    If you kid acted liked McGowan would you reward him????

  • franz chong

    says:

    I don’t see anything even if temporarily them switching to a Melbourne-Singapore-London routing.timing wise it would work out better.only problem on the way home in the other direction assuming schedules stay the same you could not connect onto say Adelaide same day or use the same plane for it’s USA runs.

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