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SA Premier to Qantas: Bring international back to Adelaide

written by Jake Nelson | September 14, 2023

Qantas and Jetstar aircraft at Adelaide Airport’s terminal. (Image: Adelaide Airport)

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas has called on Qantas to bring international services back to Adelaide Airport after a decade of absence.

While Jetstar operates flights from Adelaide to Denpasar, Adelaide has not seen a Qantas-branded international service since the Flying Kangaroo ended its Singapore route in 2013, a situation Premier Malinauskas labelled a “disappointing state of play” at a press conference on Wednesday.

“It’s been, I think, a decade since Qantas has served Adelaide on an international route, and we would love to see that change,” he said.

“I made that clear to Alan Joyce, and I’ll be making it clear to [new CEO Vanessa] Hudson at an appropriate opportunity. I think there has been a bit of discussion between my office and her office about potentially meeting before the end of the year.

“I think sometimes we’ve seen evidence of Qantas wanting to enjoy the status of being the national flag carrier. If they want to uphold that, I think they should be looking closely at Adelaide.”


Adelaide Airport is currently served internationally by Air New Zealand, Batik Air Malaysia, Fiji Airways, Jetstar, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Australia, with a Batik Air service to Denpasar slated to begin in November. Emirates this week also signalled plans to fly between Adelaide and Dubai when its A350 fleet arrives next year.

Premier Malinauskas said he is “agnostic” about which airlines he would prefer to add international capacity to Adelaide.

“We want more international flights to and from Adelaide, the market can sustain it. There are a number of airlines doing a great job, but those planes more often than not are chock-a-block,” he said.

“So, there is the opportunity to have more international flights to and from Adelaide, and as a government, we are seeking to engage with a number of airlines in that regard. Qantas, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, China Southern, we want them all back, progressively.

“We’re seeing that mapped out, but it’s about having it happening as quickly as possible. As the economy has been opening up post-COVID, particularly given the strength of the South Australian economy, we do need those international routes to facilitate the movement of people, which can be a precursor to the movement of capital.”

The Premier demurred on questions about whether the federal government was right to block additional flights from Qatar Airways into the four major airports in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, saying only that Qatar is “a valued partner of the South Australian Government”.

“Qatar was flying in and out of Adelaide when others weren’t. They backed in people who wanted to be repatriated, they backed in movers of freight. That really mattered to the South Australian economy when others went missing, so we’re grateful to Qatar for that,” he said.

“The restrictions that we see on the Eastern Seaboard in and out of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane do not apply to Adelaide, so Qatar is able to fly to and from Adelaide as much as they like, and we’re very grateful for that, and they do fly in and out of Adelaide frequently. So we think there is a role for Qatar.”

Qatar has been accused of running near-empty “ghost flights” into Adelaide, with critics saying the carrier is flying to Adelaide as an endpoint mainly to take advantage of a stop in Melbourne.

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