Qantas will restart Perth to London direct flights this month, one month ahead of schedule.
According to a statement released by the Western Australia government, Qantas’ Perth to London flights are set to restart on 23 May, with tickets now on sale.
Previously, the Kangaroo route was planned to resume from Perth on 19 June.
The popular Perth-London route has been on pause since the beginning of the pandemic, with Qantas opting to shift the layover from eastern states headed to London from Perth to Darwin due to WA’s “conservative border policies”.
Once the only Australian city that serviced direct flights to the UK, Qantas has hinted on numerous occasions that Perth could permanently lose its exclusive status as a transit hub for flights to London.
In February, Qantas confirmed that its iconic Kangaroo Route will continue to fly via Darwin, as opposed to Perth, until “at least June 2022”, on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.
“We are proud to welcome this important connection back to Western Australia,” Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said.
“This direct route between Perth and London made history when it was first launched, and along with the upcoming Perth to Rome route, its early return firmly positions WA as Australia’s western gateway to Europe.
“Re-establishing international and interstate flight routes is a key part of our $195 million Reconnect WA package, and we look forward to welcoming even more visitors from Europe back to WA safely, through these direct services.”
It also comes as Qantas gears up to provide direct flights between Perth and Rome for the first time, from 22 June.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Roger Cook said the UK is a “key visitor market” for WA and welcomed the early return of direct flights from Perth.
“The two direct connections from Perth to London and Rome will provide a huge boost in the number of visitors coming to WA from Europe, which will create more jobs in our tourism, entertainment and hospitality industries, and inject millions into our state’s economy.
“This is yet another sign of confidence that WA is open for business and open for tourism.
“We strongly encourage our European friends to take advantage of these direct services to come to Western Australia, visit family and friends, and most importantly, Wander out Yonder into our regions and explore all the incredible attractions our state has to offer.”
It’s not yet known whether the resumption of Perth-London will spell the end of the current layover in Darwin, which Qantas has repeatedly hinted could remain in some capacity.
Qantas halted all commercial international flights in late March 2020, and only resumed a limited service to London, via Darwin, when borders opened to citizens and residents in November last year.
A staggered reopening of Australia saw backpackers and migrants allowed to travel, before a full reopening to all double vaccinated visa holders commenced in February.
The return to Perth comes after a long-running legal dispute between Qantas and the city’s airport over fees was resolved.
In February, the West Australian Supreme Court ordered the Flying Kangaroo to pay more than $9 million in aeronautical fees covering a short period following the expiration of the pair’s previous agreement in mid-2018.
The sum was around $16 million less than the airport had hoped for but above what Qantas wanted to pay.
Welcoming the decision, Qantas Group CFO Vanessa Hudson said the airline “obviously” couldn’t agree to what it said was a 40 per cent price increase imposed by Perth Airport to sign a new deal in 2018.
“After some frustrating negotiations, the airport took us to court for underpayment instead of accepting our suggestion of an independent arbiter,” said Hudson.