NT News

DARWIN HUB FOR LONDON DIRECT FLIGHTS

We’ve previously asked for the NT to be put back in QaNTas. Now that push is closer than ever as the airline talks of a ...

- GARY SHIPWAY

THE NT tourism and hospitalit­y industries have urged the Gunner Government to do everything it can to convince Qantas to start Darwin to London direct flights post Covid.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce says the airline is investigat­ing using Darwin as a transit point for its internatio­nal flights to London as early as December.

Mr Joyce said Qantas could move its non-stop Perth-London service to Darwin because of the conservati­ve border policies of the WA government. He said that throughout the pandemic, Qantas had operated many internatio­nal repatriati­on flights to Darwin and was well prepared for that.

“If the only option to operate London flights is through Darwin we think we’re capable of doing that,” he said. “We will have a look at whether that’s a long-term position or a shortterm position.”

The NT has long courted Qantas to have a stronger presence in the NT, including an unsuccessf­ul bid for an Alice Springs pilot training centre. Qantas says using Darwin as the main entry point for repatriati­on flights has been a good test for its internatio­nal capability. The airline began operating its first ever flagship Sydney to London Airbus A380 service via Darwin in March last year after Singaporea­n Government Covid-19 travel restrictio­ns forced it to use Darwin to refuel.

Tourism Top End general manager Glen Hingley said direct London flights would be a real game-changer for tourism in the Top End. “We encourage the NT government to do everything it can to work with Darwin Internatio­nal Airport to make this become a reality,” Mr Hingley said. “Should it come to fruition it would be an opportunit­y, not just for Darwin and the Top End, but also for North Australia.”

NT Tourism Minister Natasha Fyles welcomed the Qantas plans. She pledged to keep working with them “around the possibilit­y of this exciting route when it is safe to do so for our community”.

“To secure direct flights from Darwin to London would be a first, and an almighty feat for the Territory,” she said. “With our nation-leading vaccinatio­n rollout and response to the pandemic, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be the next non-stop London takeoff point when it is safe to re-open.”

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 ??  ?? Qantas CEO Alan Joyce
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce

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