Qantas will swap its long-standing Singapore stopover for a bit of downtime in Darwin when the airline resumes Sydney-London flights on November 14.
That's right: instead of Sydney-Singapore-London they'll be Sydney-Darwin-London, with a brief transit stop at Australia's 'top end'.
It's a novel twist for the Kangaroo Route, but also a temporary one, due to the early reopening of Australia's international borders in November, one month earlier than expected. Come December 18, Singapore will be back on the QF1/QF2 schedule
But until then, the red-tailed Boeing 787-9 will depart Sydney three times a week at 6.30pm, and then call into Darwin at 9.25pm.
After a 90-minute break as the plane refuels, QF1 is wheels-up from Darwin at 10.55pm to tackle the 13,800km, 17½ trek to London, where it arrives at 6.50am
And after the QF2 return leg leaves London at 9.50am – yes, this is no longer an evening flight – to reach Darwin at 11.45am, and then at 1.15pm it's off to Sydney for a 7.05pm touchdown.
Darwin has been home to many of Qantas' repatriation flights, as travellers spent their 14-day quarantine period at the Howard Springs camp.
The airline has also flagged Darwin as a replacement for Perth on its flagship direct Australia-London service for as long as Western Australia's borders remain closed – which could be as late as March-April 2022.
"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 has previously remarked, adding that "Qantas' ability to fly non-stop between Australia and London is expected to be in even higher demand post-Covid."
The NT capital also served as a short-term springboard to the UK in March 2020, with Airbus A380 services running from Sydney to Darwin and then onwards to London, and vice versa.