Qantas has challenged Perth Airport to invest more in its current international operation if it wants to speed up the airline’s move from Terminal 3 to 1.
It follows the Western Australian government last week claiming the Flying Kangaroo was “dawdling” over the transfer, which it argued was holding the whole state back and damaging tourism.
The move to the new T1 international terminal has been planned since at least 2016 when Qantas signed an “in-principle” agreement to shift its international operations across by the end of 2025.
This was delayed by COVID-19, with the airport and airline thus far unable to agree on a new date.
Qantas says that Terminal 3, which is approximately a 15-minute drive from Perth’s Airport Central precinct used for other domestic and international flights as well as the airport rail link, needs more money invested while the T1 set-up is being completed.
This includes adding new biosecurity measures to T3 so that the airline can open up routes into Indonesia and South Africa.
“We are working with Perth Airport on moving to Airport Central over the long term. The first step is reaching a new agreement with the Airport that will give us the certainty to grow our Western hub,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
“Subject to agreement being reached, initially that would mean investing in our current infrastructure at T3, so we could unlock routes like Johannesburg and Jakarta before moving to Airport Central when construction is complete.”
Speaking to radio station 6PR in February, Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce said the Flying Kangaroo wants to make Perth an “unbelievably big hub”, second only to Sydney.
“Unfortunately, we had to suspend Jakarta and Joburg because of the customs issues that we’re having in our terminals that we’re operating to, which we’re trying to resolve with the Customs authorities and the airport,” he said.
“And unfortunately, we’re probably paused in terms of the expansion until we can reach an agreement with the airport on the development of those terminals because we’d love to move across to the other side to the new terminal development. But that’s going to be years away, and we need a long-term deal with Perth Airport in order to get that.”
A spokesperson for Perth Airport said that the long-term plan since the 1980s had been consolidating all flight services into the Airport Central precinct.
“Perth Airport is currently in commercial discussions with Qantas on a number of issues, including the construction of new terminal facilities in Airport Central required to achieve this outcome,” the spokesperson said.
Last week, Western Australia Tourism Minister Roger Cook told Qantas to “stop dawdling” over the Airport Central plans.
“We can’t bring too many flights through that boutique international arrival hall … it’s holding Western Australia back. It’s holding us back in terms of our tourism, our international business communities, and our international education opportunities.
“There are a range of issues which frustrate the rollout of the potential for Qantas flights flying in and out of Perth. I want to encourage Perth Airport and Qantas to resolve those issues as soon as possible.”