Qantas launches Darwin-Singapore flights

Qantas is reconnecting the Top End with Singapore for the first time since 2006.

By David Flynn, January 17 2024
Qantas launches Darwin-Singapore flights

Qantas will begin flights between Darwin and Singapore from December 2024, going head to head with incumbent Singapore Airlines on the four-to-five hour dash.

There’ll be five flights a week beginning 9 December 2024, toggling to daily from March 2025, with passengers making the hop on a nimble QantasLink Embraer E190 with 10 business class seats and 84 seats in economy.

  • QF353 will depart Darwin at 6.05pm, arriving into Singapore at 9.25pm
  • QF354 will leave Singapore at 10.25pm, landing back in Darwin at 4.45am

Those times dovetail into the Singapore stopover of Qantas’ flagship QF1/QF2 superjumbo flights on the Kangaroo Route, which leaves Singapore for London at 11.25pm and lands in Singapore from London at 5.45pm.

Of course, Top End travellers have always had the option of flying with Singapore Airlines to Singapore – which boasts lie-flat business class beds on SQ’s Boeing 737 MAX, along with seatback video screens and WiFi, all of which are absent from the E190 – and then choosing between a raft of flights to London and elsewhere in the UK, across Europe and for that matter to the rest of Asia and the Americas.

But this isn’t stopping Qantas from waving the flag, with Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace saying the Singapore service also makes for smooth connections “to popular destinations like Phuket and Kuala Lumpur with our partner airlines.”

The route is also about “strengthening the important trade, business and tourism links between Australia and Singapore,” Wallace spruiks.

Business class passengers and eligible frequent flyers – including Qantas Club members – will have access to Darwin’s domestic Qantas Club lounge prior to clearing immigration and security, along with the Qantas International Business and First lounges at Singapore’s Changi Airport Terminal 1 before their return flight.

Qantas last operated direct flights between Darwin and Singapore in 2006.

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 134

This flight is a no contest when you compare it to the Singapore airlines flight 

09 Feb 2021

Total posts 9

The SQ flight from SIN to DRW is a daytime flight, whereas the QF flight is overnight, so may better suit some people's schedules or connections.

I'm sure QF did this deliberately rather than going head-to-head with SQ on timing given SQ's superior aircraft on this route.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Oct 2019

Total posts 22

People in economy would disagree considering there is no middle seat

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 234

Seating arrangement might be more spacious on the Embraer, but that is about the only selling point. Seats and hard product aren't competitive compared to SQ's offering. 

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 161

It’s a start though 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 381

That can be said whenever Qantas fly the same route as SIA to be honest.

03 Nov 2023

Total posts 8

It is for people with Qantas/OW Status wanting to earn SCs or use a lounge, assuming the price is competitive. Although  for the return overnight flight I agree most would surely choose lie flat on SQ.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 372

Really Qantas, or should I say QantasLink? An Alliance operated Embraer with no inflight entertainment compared to a Singapore Airlines brand new 737 with all the bells and whistles. Again, Qantas is outclassed in its choice of aircraft and IFE offering.

Obviously not the demand for a 737 service. The E190 is ideal on paper, however the lack of mod cons (wifi, entertainment, ageing seats), with what I found to be stressed and overworked flight attendants make the SQ service seem far superior.

I truly think it would go a long way upgrading these aircraft to be more consistent with the 737 fleet

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2013

Total posts 48

One has to wonder what Adelaide must do for Qantas to reinstate their QF Singapore connection 

Wait until QF has more A220s, because if Adelaide had enough passengers to fill a B737 or A330 Qantas would already have flights up and running.

31 May 2018

Total posts 16

There’s a shortage of aircraft though. So it’s not just about filling the plane, but where to allocate the plane for highest profit. If they can fill a plane on two routes - but charge a higher price for one route over the other - then all else being equal they will allocate the plane to the route that will generate the greatest profit. 

03 Jun 2019

Total posts 28

Does it mean Qantas will extend the opening hours of Qantas Lounge SIN for this flight?

The Qantas Singapore lounges are already open until midnight, or even later depending on the actual departure time of QF1 if it's delayed, so that's fine for the 10.25pm departure of the SIN-DRW flight. This is actually a really nice time to be in the QF SIN lounges, especially the F lounge, as it's already been cleared out of passengers on QF2 and the other overnights to SYD MEL BNE.

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 100

How is an E190 from Darwin going to help? They’d rather have boosted SIN-LHR with additional frequencies instead 

09 Feb 2021

Total posts 9

Help who?  I'm sure this flight is helpful for those living in Darwin.

SIN-LHR is a completely different issue, with LHR's slot constraints being a significant factor.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

13 Jun 2019

Total posts 10

Whilst the SQ 737 Max has some issues for some flyers, it is still a prefereable option ex DRW to SPR, provided it doesnt fall out of the sky when the doors blow off. Qantas on the other hand, still persist with flying around all these ancient aircraft that are not fit for purpose. Alliance Airlines E190's with no IFE, no WiFi, no AC and no USB power, were never intended to be used for international flights of 5 hours. Another case of too little too late for QF and relying on membership of the their FF to keep rusted-on pax.

Geez, cop all the people complaining about this. Do any of you lot actually LIVE in Darwin? No, I didn't think so. Let's hear from people who LIVE in Darwin. I bet they're VERY happy that Qantas is flying from Darwin to Singapore. Sure, the E190 doesn't compete with the SQ 737 MAX but what else is Qantas supposed to do? If the DRW-SIN market could handle the economics of a B737 then this is what QF would be using, provided it also had the planes, but this is probably also about sensible utilisation for the Darwin-based E190s. But of course, some people would complain if DRW-SIN had a 787!

28 Mar 2018

Total posts 30

I live in Darwin. If you cannot get the SQ flight, it's either a self connection via Bali (with border clearance and two stop itineraries beyond Asia) or a back track via southern ports which can adds a minimum of 12hrs to each leg of the journey. 

The E190 is a perfectly acceptable option compared to these options. 

28 Aug 2021

Total posts 3

I live in Darwin, & quite frankly I am happy about this. As are a lot of people that live in Darwin. An E190 is better than no option at all. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jul 2013

Total posts 24

I also live in Darwin! I am over the moon with new DWN-SIN flight. IT would make traveling to world a lot easier on the OW allanice. Last time i flew to LHR from DWN, i booked with AY and got put a SQ flight to SIn before transfering to AY to UK. So now i can fly QF and earn SC and Points. Don't partically like red eye back home, but JQ did that too. 

"makes for smooth connections “to popular destinations like Phuket and Kuala Lumpur with our partner airlines.”" Did they check? it looks like you need to stay overnight in SIN for that Smooth connection to those listed ports or most asian cities.

Only issue i am concern about is range of E190, if it can reach it with full load? I just saw this week MEL-DWN(4 hour flight) did a fuel stop in ASP 3 times, i guess due to heavy headwinds. DWN to SIN is almost a 5 hr flight.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jul 2013

Total posts 24

"some people would complain if DRW-SIN had a 787!" 

fudge yeah nah we need QF a350-1000 on that route!!!!, But i am waiting for mythical Emirates A350 to fly direct to Darwin that Sir Tim Clark promise! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 321

QF would be very mindful of the impact SQ is having across the north, both Darwin and Cairns are going very well with rumors of a direct service to Townsville in the planning and many travelers across the north looking at other options than the long flight south before heading north again, QF is losing relevance up here. I hope the E190 is a short term measure and demand results in the A220 or 737 been utlilised on the route but any additional seats direct into the north is always welcome. 

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1251

I have no idea what the people of northern Australia think and unless you've surveyed them, you're making assumptions. What we can say is that Cairns and Darwin, while undoubtedly lovely places, have a population under 300k combined. 

Qantas connects those markets to its main hub (Sydney). Singapore connects them to their main hub. 

When Qantas flies to Singapore, it can only ever obtain passengers going to Singapore and a handful of other markets. When Singapore Airlines flies to Singapore, it clearly has the hub to fly them to many more places, giving them a much larger market to focus on.

05 Aug 2017

Total posts 18

Gosh, no matter what Qantas does there always will be haters. Having more options and competition on a route is always a good thing. 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 467

I remembered the days when this service was shared with Adelaide as the then QF81/82 on the 767 later a330's between 2001 and 2006.The downside was for people that started in Adelaide it was an unnecessary stop given the opposition had been operating nonstop services no sharing with other cities of Australia since 1996.It's a downgrade to be honest.The schedules on the outbound kind of suck and on the return from memory are as bad as before.the only good thing from it was for SIN-ADL people it meant a decent 9am arrival even if for people flying from Darwin joining for the domestic sector an ungodly 5:35am departure time as opposed to the old 5:05am or 6:05am timings dependent of time of year arrivals when that service was a nonstop.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jul 2013

Total posts 24

I remember some point in history, i flew a Domestic leg of CNS-DWN-SIN flight on a QF 747SP. It was a dream but short live, possible in early 2000s. Heck i remember SQ used to fly 747-300 to DWN and on to CNS in 90s.

I do remember the 6am Domestic leg on wide body of QF from SIN-DWN-ADL, i used to take it to boarding school. It beats the 737-800 haha. 

10 Apr 2020

Total posts 11

I would say government and corporate accounts will assist with filling the plane

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

What is the situation with the current DRW Constellation lounge, David? Has it been reconfigured back to its original state, left 'as is' or are there plans for upgrading it properly? The reason I ask is that during the COVID period when QF was operating some LHR flights through DRW, some 'hasty' rearrangement of the Darwin lounge was achieved in a rather quick-smart timeframe. It would be good to know what passengers can expect from any planned iteration.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jul 2013

Total posts 24

Kimshep, if i recall last year in april 2023, i saw that constellation lounge turn in to a normal cafe. No more lounge. But that could have changed

I would not think QF would uses the ex international depature lounge instead would channel them through domestic one and tell them they need enough time to clear immigration. It won't take much time to clear immigration at darwin airport if they are only flight with 100 other passengers. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

@ Tlar - many thanks for your kind update / reply !

I've just checked on the QF website and queries on 'Darwin lounge' returns a page which is headed up 'The Qantas Darwin Lounge is now permanently closed'. In typical QF fashion, it then goes on to detail the available facilities ;-)

One would think that if the Lounge was previously 'viable', that with the addition of international flights to Singapore and Timor Leste that some basic level (even if coffee-shop style functionality) should be available to resident QF FF'ers.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 785

Competition is a good thng. A few months of operation and feedback will tell QF what they really need to do with that route. And as others have said, if you're rusted-on to QF it's better than nothing. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 317

I wonder if the new A220s will be put on this route once they start getting them in.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 571

JQ used to have regular (not daily) late morning flights DRW-SIN which was cancelled in 2022

Before 2020, FIFO workers and professionals used to fly to Asian destinations for weekends plus accommodation with total cost at the same price as taking the domestic flights to eastern seaboard capitals. 

This new retimed flight route charges a premium for a meal and business seat option on an alliance embraer. 

Good thinking Qantas group, kill the LCC option then introduce a half baked full service at QF fares after 2 years so that Top Enders will welcome it rather than diss it. Shows how desperate the situation is at DRW despite Asia at its doorstep. 


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