WA border backflip could see Qantas non-stop London service stay in Darwin

Qantas may base its direct London route in Darwin longer than previously planned after WA Premier Mark McGowan announced a surprise extension of its hard border.

The original Perth to London direct flight was switched to Darwin last year while WA remained isolated from the rest of the country, with the intention of bringing it back when WA’s borders were expected to open in February.

However, McGowan’s backflip on the reopening of its border has forced Qantas CEO Alan Joyce to look at extending its Darwin-London route, which was due to end in April.

“Without knowing when we can assume the borders will open up again, what do we do and how do we plan for that?” Joyce said on 6PR.

“For example, the Perth-London service that we were planning to restart in April … without the certainty of knowing that WA will be open in April, the question we have is: do we keep it going over Darwin?

“Because we need to make a commitment to Darwin, because hotels are filling up … we need to base crew in whatever port we are going to be operating from, and if we lose that option, we won’t have a London service.”

Joyce said McGowan’s preference for keeping WA isolated made it hard to trust any new opening dates in the future.

“Even if we get that commitment, could something change again, given what happened on the fifth of February?” he said.

Joyce has previously hinted that Perth could lose its right to host the direct London route altogether, with Darwin possibly filling in on a more permanent basis.