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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Qantas adjusts domestic network in response to state border plans

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In response to state reopening plans and the most recent border assumptions in Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia, the airline has adjusted its flight schedule.

Qantas Group has announced a number of changes to its domestic network, including a two-month delay in the resumption of flights from Western Australia to Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) due to continued state border restrictions.

Following conversations with the Western Australian government, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced the decision to discontinue planned services until at least February 1. However, he added, “We will continue a basic service for persons with travel permits, as we have throughout the pandemic.”

The airline also plans to reroute its nonstop flights from Perth (PER) in Western Australia to London until at least April, instead of operating a daily Melbourne-Darwin-London service beginning in December, when the international border is expected to reopen.

Qantas stated that discussions with the Northern Territory government and Darwin Airport (DRW) were begun to explore the feasibility of London Heathrow (LHR) flights. If the airline is unable to operate through Darwin, it will instead fly a Melbourne-Singapore-London route.

Despite the delays and cancellations in Western Australia, Qantas announced that domestic flights between Victoria and New South Wales would resume earlier than expected. According to Victoria’s reopening schedule, regular flights between the two states will begin on November 5 rather than December 1.

The Oneworld alliance member will also “significantly” expand domestic flights within NSW from Oct. 25 to roughly 40% of pre-pandemic levels.

Qantas and Jetstar flights between Western Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, and South Australia, on the other hand, will be unaffected. Flights between Western Australia and Queensland will rise once border restrictions are lifted, which the airline expects will happen soon.

“Given the success of the countrywide vaccine rollout, it’s nice to see preparations firming up for certain domestic border openings,” Joyce said.

“We are now preparing to increase flights between Melbourne and Sydney, which is generally the world’s second-busiest air route, nearly a month earlier than projected.

“A lot of regional attractions will also open for the first time since June, which is fantastic news for tourism as well as family and friends who can’t wait to see each other again.”

International flights are expected to resume gradually on December 18 once Australia has reached the threshold of vaccinating 80 percent of its people against COVID-19.

“What the quarantine measures are for Australians when they return will be the critical issue in determining the ongoing demand level for international flying,” Joyce said.

“The seven-day home quarantine trial in New South Wales is a great step forward, and we hope the system evolves quickly so that vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries do not have to quarantine on arrival, especially given that Australia is on track to have one of the world’s highest vaccination rates.”

Meanwhile, Qantas has announced the introduction of two new flights from Adelaide (ADL) in South Australia. Flights to Hobart (HBA) began on September 24, with flights to Cairns (CNS) following a day later.

QantasLink will operate up to 7X weekly return flights from Adelaide to Hobart and 4X weekly return flights from Adelaide to Cairns using Embraer E190 small aircraft. The E190s joined QantasLink’s network in May as part of the airline’s new partnership with Alliance Airlines.

“We have already had a positive response to our new Adelaide flights, and we are delighted to be making it easier for South Australians to enjoy some of the country’s top tourism destinations,” said QantasLink CEO John Gissing.

In similar news, Qantas rival Regional Express (Rex) announced on September 27 that it will halt its Boeing 737s until October 31. The airline stated that it has been left with “no choice” but to extend the suspension of its domestic services and reduce regional routes due to continuous state border restrictions in Australia.

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