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Qantas redirects Kangaroo Route via Darwin until ‘at least’ June

written by Hannah Dowling | February 15, 2022

Qantas 787 Dreamliner in flight. (Qantas)

Qantas has confirmed that its iconic Kangaroo Route connecting Australia directly with London will continue to fly via Darwin, as opposed to Perth, until “at least June 2022”.

Qantas said the decision was made in light of ongoing uncertainty both over the reopening of the Western Australian border and testing requirements in Singapore.

The airline will continue to perform daily flights from both Sydney and Melbourne via Darwin on its 787 Dreamliner fleet, after extending its arrangement with the Northern Territory government.

Qantas announced in September that it would temporarily reroute its popular Perth-London passenger service via Darwin due to WA’s “conservative border policies”. Qantas said it felt confident with the redirect due to its many successful repatriations that operated through the hub amid international border closures.

Initially, the arrangement in Darwin was expected to wrap up in April, and WA’s domestic and international borders were planned to reopen on 5 February.

However, WA Premier Mark McGowan delayed the move indefinitely due to the Omicron outbreak. A new reopening date is yet to be set.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the support of the NT government made it possible for Qantas to relaunch the key direct Australian-UK route and the extension provides the Northern Territory with the added bonus of capitalising on pent-up international inbound travel demand.

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“The work of the Chief Minister and his team, and the cooperation of Darwin Airport, have made running and now extending this service possible. Because of their help, flying between Australia and London has been a lot easier than it might have been otherwise,” said Joyce.

“This extension through to at least mid-June means the Top End has several months to properly leverage the opening up of Australia’s borders to all tourists. It’s a great opportunity to encourage thousands of visitors to stop off in Darwin to see what the NT has to offer.”

It comes after Joyce last month suggested that the airline may look to commit to extending its Darwin-London route, in light of Western Australia’s uncertain border reopening plans.

It also comes after Qantas was forced to cut its planned domestic capacity by a further 10 per cent through to March, due to WA’s delayed reopening, and said it would put its plans for a restart for Perth-London flights “under review”.

Speaking on 6PR Radio, Joyce said that without being offered any idea of a new reopening plan, or anticipated date, the airline is going to be forced to consider once again committing to options that circumvent the hard border.

“Without knowing when we can assume the borders will open up again, what do we do and how do we plan for that?” he asked.

“For example, the Perth-London service that we were planning to restart in April … without the certainty of knowing that WA will be open in April, the question we have is: do we keep it going over Darwin?

“Because we need to make a commitment to Darwin, because hotels are filling up … we need to base crew in whatever port we are going to be operating from, and if we lose that option, we won’t have a London service.”

The Perth-London flight has been in limbo since WA shut its international borders in 2020 and imposed some of the strictest domestic border restrictions in the country.

Qantas confirmed in September that it will “temporarily” reroute its flagship London-Perth service to fly via Darwin until “at least” April 2022.

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

Then, in October, Qantas hinted that Perth could permanently lose its exclusive status as a transit hub for flights between London and both Sydney and Melbourne, depending on demand.

In a pointed statement, the carrier said it would watch how the new route performs and would remain “open-minded about what it could lead to down the track”, suggesting Darwin could become a more permanent fixture.

Joyce previously said that if the route generates “good interest and good traffic” it could be in addition to the Perth layover.

Comments (3)

  • Ashley

    says:

    Excellent idea!

    With McClown being a total dictator, who knows when WA will open up?
    QANTAS CEO Mr Alan Joyce is correct in his summation of WA.

    Just another reason that health crises should be handled ONLY by the Fed Govt.

    A lesson learnt……

    • phodge

      says:

      A total dictator eh? Somewhat like Joyce I would have thought. Maybe not as bad! In case you hadn’t realized it, the man was elected resoundingly by the people of WA and in accordance with their wishes, has done everything possible to protect them from Covid . Some dictator!!!

  • QF is correct in routing the MEL/LHR service via DRW for now, until the WA border issue is clarified.
    Great as DRW and the NT is, the phrase ”thousands of visitors to stop off in DRW” is surely fanciful at best.
    The normal domestic VA and QF flights to DRW from MEL/SYD do carry the tourists anyhow, I think Mr Joyce needs to speak to his PR people about exaggeration.
    Despite the temporary loss of the daily 787 MEL/PER/LHR, Perth is still a major base for QF with interstate, intrastate and the many mining flights operated by them.

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