Qantas announces changes for its first international flights to London
Qantas will operate its flagship direct route to London via Darwin when international flights resume next month with the reopening of Australia’s international borders.
The national carrier has reached an agreement with the Northern Territory Government and Darwin Airport to temporarily reroute its flights from Melbourne and Sydney through Darwin.
The airline confirmed the move on Friday night, saying the first Sydney-Darwin-London flight would take off on November 14.
The Melbourne-Darwin-London route is currently scheduled to begin on December 18, but Qantas says it could start earlier depending on discussions with the Victorian Government on shorter quarantine arrangements for returning travellers.
“The NT Government has worked closely with us to make these flights happen and I’d like to thank the Chief Minister and his team for finding a solution that is safe and streamlined,” Qantas Group chief executive officer Alan Joyce said.
Qantas says it will restart its flights from Sydney to Los Angeles in December.
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the direct route would mark a turning point for Australia as the states and territories work towards the next phases of the national reopening plan.
The commonwealth government shut Australia’s international borders in March 2020. Only a limited number of people have been granted a permit to leave the country, while tens of thousands of Australians have been stranded overseas by the country’s strict caps on arrivals.
Australians states will be able to reopen to international travellers in November once the 80 per cent double-dose Covid-19 vaccination target is met, under a plan announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on October 1.
The plan, which will begin with NSW, would see states allow travel for passengers who have been fully inoculated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved vaccine and have been tested for Covid-19 before boarding their flight.
NSW will be the first state to trial at-home quarantine for fully vaccinated Australians and permanent residents arriving in the state from overseas.
Qantas has announced a two-phase plan for its Darwin flights to London.
In stage one, transiting passengers from all Australian states, or returning from London, will be able to visit the international lounge and shops at Darwin Airport.
Passengers travelling from London to Sydney and Melbourne via Darwin and wanting to travel onwards to other Australian cities may also be subject to state and territory quarantine requirements.
In stage two, transiting passengers will have the option to leave the terminal and visit Darwin,
Passengers based in Darwin will also be able to book the direct flight to London.
Qantas’ first international flight left Australia from Darwin in 1935, carrying passengers from Brisbane to Singapore via the NT capital.
Originally published as Qantas announces changes for its first international flights to London
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