Qantas will recommence direct flights between Australia and Japan from Tuesday April 19 – but while the daily Sydney-Tokyo service gets back to business, direct Perth-Tokyo flights will be abandoned three weeks later.
The airline began to reroute Sydney-Tokyo and Perth-Tokyo services via Hong Kong on March 16, following the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami which sparked a nuclear-power plant emergency.
According to Qantas, the stopover was added to allow flight crews an extended rest period or a complete crew change-over in Hong Kong, as disruption to Tokyo's road and rail system caused difficulties in transporting staff to hotels in Tokyo.
The move was said to be a precautionary step to ensure employees didn't have to pull double shifts on the 10 hour flights between Australia and Japan.
An airline spokesman emphasised that it was not a response to any nuclear fallout concerns, although at the time the Flight Attendants Union told Australian Business Traveller "the truth is, some [flight attendants] are personally concerned, and it's quite natural that their family members are also concerned about them going up to Japan, with what's going on."
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the airline "has been working closely with the Australian Government, as well as industry and health experts including the International Air Transport Association, International Civil Aviation Organisation, Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and World Health Organisation to monitor the situation in Japan."
"Together with the advice of these authorities and our own assessments, Qantas is now satisfied that infrastructure services have returned to normal in Tokyo and our crew will now be able to undertake appropriate rest breaks."
But while daily Sydney-Tokyo flights get back to normal, the thrice-weekly Perth-Tokyo service will be axed – or in Qantas parlance, "suspended" – from May 10 as part of the airline's cost-cutting and revenue-raising measures.