Jetstar has paused ticket sales between Darwin and Bali for a month amid uncertainty around Defence runway works at Darwin Airport.
The low-cost carrier confirmed in a statement that it has stopped selling direct flights between Darwin and Denpasar — which operate five times per week — from 9 October to 8 November, as Defence, which owns Darwin Airport, may have plans to upgrade the runway during this time.
“While the dates and times of the runway works have not yet been confirmed, we have proactively stopped selling flights during this period to limit the number of customers potentially affected. If the works do not go ahead on these dates, we will put the flights back on sale,” the airline said, adding that it has not yet cancelled already-booked flights.
“Once the works are confirmed, we will contact customers already booked to fly to discuss their options including indirect flights via another port, a travel credit or a refund to their original form of payment.
“We thank customers for their understanding and patience as we wait for confirmation about the timing of the runway works.”
Darwin and Toowoomba Wellcamp are the only major Australian airports to be owned by the Department of Defence, though Newcastle Airport’s runway is co-located with RAAF Base Williamtown.
In a press conference, Assistant Defence Minister Matt Thistlethwaite said that Defence is in talks with Darwin’s Airport Development Group, which runs the commercial airport under lease from Defence, about the timing of the works, which he said are “pretty important to the viability of the Defence Force in the North”.
“We’re seeing increasing numbers of visitors to the Northern Territory, so the runway is getting more use in terms of civil aviation, but also much more use in terms of defence aviation, as well. It’s time that the runway is strengthened to ensure that it can cater for those additional [Defence] flights that are coming into the airport,” he said.
“There’s a negotiation that’s going on between Defence and the Airport Corporation at the moment to ensure that we minimise the disruption to civil aviation through these works. What we’re trying to achieve is ensuring that the work can take place in the dry season, but also ideally at night or at non-peak times, so that we’re minimising that disruption to civil aviation.”
The runway works are expected to be completed next year.