UPDATE | Qantas has scrapped its planned flights between Perth and Johannesburg due to an ongoing stoush with Perth Airport over which terminal the service would use.
Perth Airport has insisted that Qantas use the main international T1 terminal for the seasonal service to South Africa.
However, Qantas planned to run the flights from the newly-developed international wing of its domestic T3 terminal, which is also used by the airline's Boeing 787 flights to London as well as the daily Boeing 737 service to Singapore.
This would also streamline connection for Qantas' domestic passengers flying to Perth to make the journey to Jo'burg.
"We had planned to operate a seasonal service this November to March, which would have put about 4,000 passengers a week through Perth," Alison Webster, CEO of Qantas International, told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of this week's IATA aviation summit in Sydney.
"We couldn’t operate it through Terminal 3 where the aircraft would in fact come in (from a domestic flight) and turn around, and towing (from T1) would make it completely logistically not okay."
Webster said that the Airbus A330 slated for the Perth-Johannesburg flight has since been "redeployed elsewhere" and will no longer be available for the South African route.
"It's a busy time of the year for us, so we actually got to a pinch point."
- David Flynn
EXCLUSIVE [April 11, 2018] | Qantas plans to expand its international footprint in Perth with non-stop flights to Johannesburg expected to launch in December 2018.
Internal airline schedules sighted by Australian Business Traveller but yet to be made public – and thus subject to change – indicate the direct flights would run four times per week from Friday December 7 on an Airbus A330-200 jet.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, flight QF65 would depart Perth at 12:45pm to reach South Africa around 5:25pm local time.
On the return journey, QF66 would depart Johannesburg at 10:25pm on the same calendar days, touching down in Perth at 2pm the following afternoon.
Again, those details are subject to change but Qantas' intention seems clear.
A spokesperson for Qantas told Australian Business Traveller "we’re always looking at new routes but we have nothing to announce at the moment."
Updated April 24: A Qantas spokesman has now confirmed the airline’s plans, saying “we’re in discussion with Perth Airport about a seasonal service to South Africa, and we’re hopeful we can make it a reality”.
The move would see Qantas take on Star Alliance member and Virgin Australia partner South African Airways and its daily Perth-Johannesburg flight, which Qantas used to sell to its own passengers via a codeshare agreement before winding up that deal in May 2014.
Qantas also runs Sydney-Johannesburg Boeing 747 flights six days each week as QF63 from Sydney and QF64 from Johannesburg, with plans to boost this to a daily service during July and August 2018 to cater to increased demand.
Go flat out to Jo'burg
It’s likely that business class passengers on Qantas' Perth-Johannesburg flights will be able to relax and unwind in Qantas’ new Business Suites (pictured below), which offer direct aisle access and convert into a fully-flat bed.
Two of the Roo’s Airbus A330-200 jets continue to fly with older SkyBeds in a 2-2-2 layout, often appearing on flights between Sydney and Beijing, although Qantas plans to upgrade these aircraft to the newer Business Suites.
The Johannesburg flights would depart from the new international wing of Qantas' Perth T3 terminal rather than the T1 international terminal.
However, eligible travellers would likely have to make do with Qantas' domestic business lounge at Perth's T4 terminal ahead of their flight as the newly-opened Perth International Transit Lounge is reserved for passengers on the Perth-London Boeing 787 service.