Melissa Meehan
(Australian Associated Press)

Qantas has announced it will temporarily cease flights to London from Perth, with plans to replace it with a service from Darwin.

The Darwin-London service will run until at least April 2022, if the carrier can come to a deal with the Northern Territory government, the airline said on Monday.

“At this stage, WA doesn’t intend to open to international travel until sometime next year, so we’ll unfortunately have to temporarily move our Perth-London service until at least April 2022,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said in a statement.

“Instead of operating from Melbourne to Perth and then on to London as it usually does, this flight will operate from Melbourne to London via either Darwin or Singapore, depending on conversations we’re having with the NT in the coming weeks.”

The national carrier has successfully used Darwin as a hub for its repatriation flights to various destinations across Europe, Asia and the Middle East over the past 12 months.

If able to come to a deal, Qantas plans to run daily Melbourne-Darwin-London flights.

If not, it will instead fly Melbourne-Singapore-London.

A decision is expected in the next two weeks.

The news follows the unveiling of reopening plans in Victoria, NSW and Western Australia.

Key changes include:

  • Bringing forward the reopening date between Victoria and NSW from December 1 to November 5, based on Victoria’s roadmap plan.
  • Significantly increasing regional flights within NSW from October 25.
  • Delaying domestic flights between Perth and both Sydney and Melbourne by two months to February 2022.

“Based on our discussions with Western Australia we know their borders won’t be open to New South Wales and Victoria until early next year, so we’ve sadly had to cancel the flying we had planned on those routes in the lead-up to Christmas,” Mr Joyce said.

“We will maintain a minimum service for people with permits to travel, though, as we have throughout the pandemic.”

The airline previously announced it expects to resume flights to some low-risk destinations with high vaccination rates from mid-December.

These include Singapore, Japan, the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand.

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