Qantas prepared to skip Brisbane, Perth to restart overseas flights

If Queensland and WA keep their borders locked up past December, Qantas is prepared to leave them off its restart schedule.

By David Flynn, September 13 2021
Qantas prepared to skip Brisbane, Perth to restart overseas flights

Qantas says it's willing to relaunch international flights in December from Sydney and Melbourne, but not Brisbane or Perth, if Queensland and Western Australia insist on keeping their states closed after reaching the 80% vaccination milestone.

The premiers of both states have reserved the right to open their borders according to their own timetable and feeling of confidence in keeping their residents free from the spread of the problematic Covid-19 Delta variant.

However, if New South Wales and Victoria make good on their promise to follow the national plan and allow international travel after hitting the 80% vaccinated threshold, Qantas is more than ready to schedule flights to and from Sydney and Melbourne, while leaving Brisbane and Perth on hold.

"It is a national plan, and it's our view... we should open up together," Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully told a Tourism Australia webinar on Friday.

"But if not, we can plan for scenarios that Sydney and Melbourne can open up," she said, adding that "it's not ideal", but the airline needed to get moving again.

"We're excited to see that Australians want to travel. We think as soon as borders open up there will be large influx of demand."

Sydney to London – via Darwin?

Over the weekend, WA Premier Mark McGowan said people from New South Wales would not be allowed into WA for Christmas, even if they were fully vaccinated.

"Even though you might be vaccinated, you can still transmit the virus," he said. "So we're just going to have a very strong approach to these things (and) we'll make a decision when it's safe to do so."

Asked when he felt WA's hard border' would come down and let in visitors from eastern states, Mr McGowan told Seven West Media "I don't know whether it'll be February, March or April – I suspect it will be one of those months."

WA's stance is crucial to Qantas' flagship Perth-London route, which also sees passengers flying in from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide  to Perth to join London-bound Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

However, Qantas has a Plan B – or rather a Plan D – to fly to London via Darwin should WA remain closed.

Darwin has been home to many of the airline's Boeing 787 repatriation flights throughout the Covid pandemic, and in March 2020 it also served as a short-term springboard to the UK for Qantas' Airbus A380 services between Sydney and London.

"We've got some good operational capability flying from Darwin to London, to Paris, to Frankfurt, to Istanbul, so we know that operation really well," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said last month.

The airline says it "is investigating using Darwin as a transit point, which has been Qantas' main entry for repatriation flights, as an alternative (or in addition) to its existing Perth hub given conservative border policies in Western Australia."

Qantas expects non-stop flights between Australia and London will be even more popular in the post-Covid era.

"I think it would be a terrible shame, if when we got to Christmas, from NSW you could visit your relatives in London, but can't visit your relatives in Perth," Joyce added.

Flight searches surge

The airline reports almost a tripling of searches for international flights after announcing its restart strategy, with the most popular routes being Sydney-London, Melbourne-London, Sydney- Los Angeles, Sydney-Singapore and Sydney-Tokyo.

However, Tully said fares would be at approximately pre-pandemic levels.

"Pricing will not be high because our priority is to get people back in the air. As long as we can make a dollar in the air we will do it."

However, Tully repeated the airline's belief that "hotel quarantine should be eliminated or greatly reduced" in favour of home quarantine.

"Hotel quarantine is a demand killer," she said. "If it's 14 days' hotel quarantine we will not get the demand we need to operate."

Read more: NSW to phase out hotel quarantine as country moves to home isolation

[Source: AFR]

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Mar 2014

Total posts 20

What about running flights from Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory to countries with low or no COVID cases (e.g. Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand, etc.)? I would be very surprised if any of those states/territories open up to New South Wales by Christmas.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 954

QF will not be interested in marginal routes from the smaller states.  If QLD, WA etc want to stay closed, that means closed.  It may be politically difficult for premiers in the smaller states if the media is covering NSW and Vic residents flying to SIN, LHR etc but I assume they are aware of that.  WA's biggest risk is QF deciding they don't need PER-LHR any more and it never returning; that will be awkward.

JJ1
JJ1

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 10

Hi Reeves ... I think you are spot on. I think QF would very much like to see PER-LHR-PER continue to be the success that it was but if there are so many restrictions placed on it or any other airline for that matter its easy to understand why they would shift or reconsider their view on this route. I think this is where staes such as WA and QLD will come to learn in time that the boat, so to speak with the rest of Australia on it

03 May 2021

Total posts 20

Yeah that would be a dumb description considering that route was qantas’ most profitable international route, and considering the amount of English migrants living in WA, in my opinion it wouldn’t be very smart to move to darwin

JJ1
JJ1

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 10

In the case of WA its my understanding (please correct me if I am wrong) that they currently aren't even letting their own residents back in to WA from high/extreme risk areas of Australia let alone anyone from OS in the proposed plan. I think this is where we will see many parts of Australia moving about overseas well before anyone in WA is able to venture out of their state without not being able to freely get back in

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 24

Based on WA definitions of high and extreme risk most places around the world would be in the  "extremely extreme high risk" category, so dont see that happening......

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Feb 2015

Total posts 34

Correct . I live half in Melb & work/live in Perth . Currently I am forced to live/work in Perth because if I leave I cannot return . Even residents for compassionate grounds cannot return to WA ! Truely astonishing ! This must change quickly . Many people here in Perth want to go interstate/overseas but the premier here says NO ! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 188

Firstly, Steven Marshall has said SA will open to VIC/NSW at 80%. 

Let's not forget that Eastern Australia is still a "low" COVID case region hence there is no logical reason to resume PER,HBA,BNE to SIN,TPE and not SYD/MEL. Maybe AKL if they end up re-elimating COVID but if MEL/SYD are ready to open to the other countless destinations around the world it is a no brainer where to deploy resources.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Feb 2015

Total posts 34

Singapore are on record as saying they didn’t stop the travel bubble based on covid number , it was stopped due to state border policy changes. Ie , snap lockdowns and not 1 consistent policy . Looking at you WA & QLD

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Aug 2020

Total posts 21

You deviate from the plan you don’t get flights. Simple.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 441

That would be great but Qantas hasn't run flights to marginal markets like Taiwan for years, probably because of low yield and not being able to compete with other airlines and even then it's SYD/MEL. They would certainly not operate from Adelaide or Perth to somewhere like Taipei.

I mean, if Qantas only served Bangkok from Sydney for years before Covid, there is even less chance of serving Taipei from Brisbane or Perth, as to the best of my knowledge, they've never served Taipei from these markets (Eva Air serves Brisbane but not sure if Qantas ever has). I've noticed Qantas recently operated a Perth-Bangkok flight, but that was probably freight and/or a repatriation flight. Several Melbourne-Bangkok flights have also been operated recently in addition to SYD-BKK. Interesting that QF stopped operating these flights years and years before Covid but all of a sudden they're operating them now. MEL-BKK was a Jetstar service.

Bangkok is of course, much more popular for Aussies than Taipei is, which proves my point.

Hong Kong by contrast is a major market and I can see them flying there from Brisbane or even Adelaide. I can't see there being any demand for international flights from Hobart, other than seasonal flights to New Zealand.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 194

Important to note that routes in 2022 will be shaped by different factors than in 2019, especially when it comes to which countries open up and under what conditions and how safe people feel going there.

I can see Taipei becoming an interesting alternative to Hong Kong for leisure travellers looking for something different if they can't go to HK or don't feel comfortable going there, especially if Taiwan puts tourism dollars into a campaign and gets Qantas on board, but it would probably be a once-only visit for a lot of people, somewhere different to fly to and try but not everyone will go back again and again, unlike HK, also Taipei won't have anywhere near the business appeal of HK, let along that HK was also the gateway into China for a lot of people, especially QF+CX into the 'second' and 'third' tier cities with Cathay Dragon.

Bangkok will always have strong appeal but not until people feel safe flying there again after COVID.

So I could see Sydney and Melbourne to Taipei, maybe a split schedule of 4x and 3x, but Brisbane and Adelaide certainly not. Adelaide would be lucky to get any overseas Qantas flights, if Qantas comes back to Adelaide for that I'd think it would just be for the most obvious and popular destinations such as Singapore and maybe Auckland and Christchurch.

05 May 2016

Total posts 631

New Zealand may not want to open up to any Australian state unless they feel the whole country has got it under control.

Until New Zealand abandons its zero COVID approach travel between Australia and New Zealand is likely to remain very restricted.

I hope there's a decent amount of capacity for Melbourne to London flights before the end of the year.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 954

QF will be more than happy if they can get routes to SIN, LHR, HNL re-established and, if that means NZ remains closed, so be it.  NZ, like WA etc are currently pursuing a Covid-zero strategy.  It is not practical to try to run a reliable schedule with these types of locations given they can be shut down at a moment's notice.

QF are encouraged by the interest in revived int'l routes currently but it is still very uncertain until things like home quarantine and travel insurance are resolved.  Once there is clarity and a clear agreement between countries at either end of these green-zone routes (and transit points if necessary), the actual pent up demand level will be clearer.  Obviously, capacity is not an issue if the demand is there given most airlines largely have their int'l fleets idled currently.  

Current limits relate to hotel and Howard Springs quarantine.  Green zone routes need to be home quarantine so these facilities aren't required.  Otherwise, the restart won't happen.

29 Mar 2017

Total posts 11

Darwin was only a refuelling stop in the few weeks it operated.  I am not sure how people feel about having to stay on the plane for a couple of hours whilst they change crew.  How would Singapore Changi operate as a transit stop to the UK or the possibility that transiting passengers mingling with other travellers would preclude it as a transit stop.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 954

SIN is an obvious candidate and will again be the transit stop for QF1/2 when it restarts with the main difference being SIN-LHR will not be sold as a standalone sector for the time being.      If the NT Gov't choose to continue to pursue Covid Zero, there is no doubt QF will bypass DRW as well as PER and use SIN instead for QF9/10.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 441

Nothing wrong with Darwin as a transit stop though. Singapore is more attractive, but unless you're actually entering the country, it doesn't really matter where the stop is made to get off the plane, walk around the transit lounge and then get suited up for long-haul stretch to Europe. Obviously I'd imagine a lot of passengers are getting off in Singapore in transit to other destinations (especially SE Asia), which is something Darwin can't compete on. The attractiveness of Darwin is more it's marketing value as a direct, non-stop service between Australia and Europe.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 361

There was always going to be a price to be paid by those states who refused to open up at 80%….this is it. 

You can’t have COVID zero and travel….they are incompatible.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2019

Total posts 32

When you have 2 key state Governments that have for now a closed border policy (QLD and WA) then businesses have to make  decisions  to keep operating.  Imagine living in Melbourne - it will be absurd that soon one may be able to travel to Canada but not Cairns or Perth in the UK but not Perth in OZ. We certainly live in interesting times.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 188

Well personally living in MEL with family in LHR I've got no complaints. I'd expect many Sydneysiders and Melbournians in the same boat with family around the world. I feel for those in states seemingly unwilling to propose opening with family overseas but given recent elections it would seem they're in the minority. I welcome SA and NZ proposals to move forward, hopefully others follow suit.

01 Jul 2021

Total posts 9

I'm not an expert in anyway at all but I think Queensland will not open up or might only open up to few a countries and WA there's no hope they are not opening up  

13 Sep 2021

Total posts 1

Surely Qantas can restart some international flights from Adelaide with the a330 or 787. New Zealand or flights to Singapore would surely have enough demand?

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 661

All I can say is “United States of Australia” and who voted these people in to power. Can you image Queensland for example not having Southern tourists over the Dec Jan period. Myself living in Sydney being a born and bred Bundabergian, being doubled dosed with AZ and not being allowed into my home state?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1368

Upup we know who voted them into power as both states had elections this year with major swings in Qld and a Tory wipeout in WA. That is the simple reason for not opening up. They won’t until after the federal election.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 66

Never was a fan of the Perth to London route anyway. Good riddance.

Darwin is a more direct stopover for majority of the country anyway especially from the east coast. Hope they keep it as a permanent option.

It's good that the A380 can do that far too as an alternative option instead of Singapore if they choose to run it when those are flying again.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 84

You just know there's something very rotten in Australian life and politics when it's easier for tourists to get in and out of North Korea, than it is for those same tourists to travel to a couple of Australian states (which shall remained un-named).

15 Jun 2018

Total posts 5

Was never a fan of PER-LHR?? lol

.. Well, it's certainly been the most popular route with the highest customer satisfaction rating of any QF route in its history. 

I think some people need to get over there apathy and their otherwise resentment of WA and the covid-free approach. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1368

We could have a situation where fights can transit via Perth with people not allowed to leave the transit lounge. The question is whether WA passengers would be allowed back into the state. If not Darwin it is and the transit area (and lounge) there is big enough to handle a 787s passengers, as long as no domestic flights are scheduled at the same time.

03 May 2021

Total posts 20

Most people who flew on that flight lived in Perth, not many transitted in Perth

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 12

I don't think that is correct.  

Prior to Covid stopping flights QF9 was a 787 that flew from Melbourne to Perth, then on to London.  QF10 was the return flight, it terminated at Tullamarine.   The majority of the passengers on the flight were either departing from, or going to, Melbourne.  It picked up, and dropped off passengers from other Australian cities in Perth, but the bulk of the loading was from Victoria.    

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 26

This is all just bluster.  QLD will definitely open up once we reach 80%.  The border bubble with northern NSW has already re-opened this week!  If people think QLD and WA will stay closed once 80% vaccination is reached then they're dreaming.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Feb 2015

Total posts 34

I hope you are correct . Def qld but I worry for my family in WA at Xmas . My family cannot leave WA for fear of not being allowed back in 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 168

They may be slower than the other states but I agree, they will be forced once NSW and VIC start to have international freedom. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 18

One can always hop on a plane to other states with international departure and fly overseas from there. It is not uncommon for one to transit in SYD for international connections pre-COVID time anyway... Or have I missed something here?

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 29

yes but its getting back to your home state is the hard part - in theory, you would have to home quarantine in NSW or VIC for 14 days and then fly on to WA, QLD etc and then i assume have to go into either hotel quarantine or home quarantine again for another 14 days.

Which would mean 1 month of quarantine in total plus you would also to have meet the very strict criteria of being essential to gain entry back into WA or QLD (more so WA). 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 954

But you can’t come home. WA isn’t letting in people from Vic, NSW or any other location with community spread of COVID. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Mar 2018

Total posts 16

This is when the constitution needs to be changed as state premiers should have no control over borders of any kind. WA and QLD are going to be left far behind when the rest of Australia is travelling and tourists flooding and the new normal begins, but they insist on a power complex. 

07 May 2020

Total posts 136

Flyer86....the whole situation could have been avoided if in March 2020 Scott Morrison had invoked the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act  to control borders and quarantine. At that time he probably didn't expect the pandemic to last more than a few months, and he probably didn't want to pay quarantine costs which are the responsibility of the Commonwealth if they quarantine someone. So instead he passed this burden onto each state who through their own Health Orders regulate quarantine across their borders, as well as pass the quarantine costs on to the travellers. This was probably Morrison's biggest mistake and I am sure he regrets it. He lost complete control over border control regarding quarantine conditions. Sure he loud mouths about opening up for international travel, but he knows that he is totally at the mercy of the state premiers and their individual Health Order. Oh dear!

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 12

Morrison, as is his want, did everything he could to avoid making a decisive plan when it became apparent there was a major issue about to hit the world. I believe it was Gladys from the right, and Dan from the left, who both realised what was going to occur and largely took the decision out of his hands, resulting in it being the states who controlled the management of quarantining overseas arrivals. (With less than great success at times. )  The Australian constitution makes it clear it should have been a Commonwealth responsibility, but it was never going to happen as quickly as was needed with a fence sitter in charge.  And as you have pointed out, the consequences of that failure to lead is that the State Premiers have been in charge on this issue ever since, resulting in the ridiculous situation we now have where people can't even travel to their home states.     

23 Jul 2017

Total posts 80

I've read quite a few hypotheses above, but until many things regarding the relationships between travel, ports of call, dates, airlines and covid19, I'm chicken and will admit it. I used love bouncing onto a Queen and going abroad, but their days are over and it looks like mine are, too. I'm staying home and only travelling to covid19-free states.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 502

Assuming Qantas develops a respectable transit lounge in Darwin (including adequate shower facilities for inbound arrivals from LHR), this could be a game changer.  Much will depend upon whether DRW's owners can be pragmatic and co-operative, which I've gleaned PER has not.  

The solution for DRW might be the 'sliding doors' concept, which allows the lounge (or a portion of it) to be used exclusively for international transits and then (after departure) opened for use by pax on domestic flights (thus allowing for better and more cost effective utilization of Qantas lounge staff).  

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 168

Well done to Qantas if they ignore WA and Qld. I applaud them in deciding to open up. Apart from a few scared voices (a few here incidentally) the overwhelming majority of people will travel as soon as they can. 

The sooner we stop counting cases the better off we will be. Economics will always win out over health considerations. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 444

Exactly. The correct metric now is illness/death, not the number of cases (the majority of whom, if vaccinated, will be asymptomatic.

There is all this talk about them opening up but are internationals allowed to come to Australia? eg USA

15 Sep 2021

Total posts 1

Let’s get this happening! If this means the travel industry can get going I’m all for it. We can workaround this, the same as we have all been doing with our lives for the last 18 months or so 

I for one, just can wait to dust of my passport and get out there! Fly Qantas Fly!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jul 2017

Total posts 14

Chatting to friends, we feel that DFAT should be offering discounted renewals for passports that we have paid for, and not been able to use for almost two years. What are other people's thoughts?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 188

Agree with the sentiment, but given they're valid for 10 years, 2 years or so isn't a big portion. I'd much rather the government throws everything they've got at resuming international travel in a sustainable and high volume manner ASAP than spends time debating weather to give people <$50 off a passport renewal. (or the many other more pressing issues at the moment)

15 Sep 2021

Total posts 1

Qantas International might like to finally stop snubbing South Australians and thank us by finally flying internationally into Adelaide again. From my recount it has been 10 years since the last regular International Qantas service to Adelaide (QF81/82) to Singapore. Now SA has kept their border open more than any other State through this pandemic, often being one of the busiest capital city pairs for Qantas. SA despite being COVID free has committed to reopening at 80% vaccinations. something no other COVID free State is willing to do. Time for Qantas to repay the favour to the travelling South Australian public!!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 502

Relax, with this morning's announcement re: nuclear-powered submarine development in collaboration with Britain and the USA, I think you'll get what you wanted (and quite a few long terms stays from residents of both the UK and USA).  Good news for SA (and Australia).  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Aug 2013

Total posts 6

If Annastacia is going to open up Queensland to International travel, why would she be signing agreements to create quarantine facilities with a years lease with the option to extend a further year. 

to allow people from badly hit covid countries come to come for work and study?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 402

qantas needs to carry out the threat and I hope they do. those so-called leaders in WA and Queensland will soon change their tune when the public grasps the situation. All they are doing is playing politics, absolutely nothing else and they need to be called out.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jan 2017

Total posts 13

NZ's current policy of total elimination of COVId and 100% vaccination of adult population has never been achieved anywhere in the world - and is, of course, a Utopian pipe dream.  NZ will be left behind and the economy will continue to suffer - unless the Ardern Government backs down or is defeated at the next election.  To penalise all Australians by denying entry based on "hot spots" in a number of suburbs in a couple of States is outrageous.


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