Strong demand for the Kangaroo Route will see Qantas return its Melbourne to London flights via Perth earlier than anticipated.
With the Western Australia border issues now firmly resolved and re-established, the Red Roo will reroute its daily QF9 services through the WA capital from May 23 - a little over two weeks ahead of schedule, ending its temporary use of Darwin as a stopover point.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce previously confirmed to Executive Traveller that London flights would transit via Darwin – put in place as an alternative to Perth in November 2021 – "until the 18th of June".
"We had to lock a few things down in Darwin" such as forward booking hotel accomodation for crews working the flights to and from London, Joyce said, "and the Northern Territory government put a lot of work into making this happen", including facilitating a temporary 'international transit lounge' at Darwin Airport's international terminal.
(Our Executive Traveller review of Qantas' Darwin International Transit Lounge described the facility as "very much a Qantas Club setup", although "as pit stops go, it’s quite adequate.)
For some Qantas passengers, the end of Darwin as a stopover hub can't come soon enough. Recent reports of Qantas aircraft being forced to offload some economy class baggage so as to not encounter a deteriorating patch of the runway has left the airline red-faced.
In a few years, Darwin and Perth won't be needed at all after Qantas confirmed its 'Project Sunrise' order for 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft which will enable it to fly Sydney and Melbourne to London (among other destinations) in one monstrous 18-20 hour leap.
The Perth-London restart will be followed a month later by the launch of Sydney-Perth-Rome flights on June 22, forging the first direct link between Australia and continental Europe.
The seasonal Sydney-Perth-Rome service will see three Boeing 787-9 flights per week making the 16-hour trek during the peak European holiday season from 22 June to 6 October.
Joyce also confirmed he remains in discussion with Perth Airport on the possibility of direct flights to Johannesburg, which would further burnish the city's role as an Australian international port for Qantas and also replace the withdrawn Perth-Jo'burg service previously run by beleaguered South African Airways.