Qantas is to add seven new routes and two new destinations to its regional network in 2021, following what it calls an “influx of frequent flyers from other airlines switching to Qantas”.

In total the carrier will fly to 62 destinations across Australia next year, five more than its pre-Covid-19 total

On February 1, 2021, Qantas will begin daily flights between Sydney and Griffith, as well as 12 weekly flights between Melbourne and Newcastle, and four weekly services between Melbourne and Merimbula.

Then on March 28, 2021 the carrier will add five weekly flights between Melbourne and Mount Gambier, four weekly services between Melbourne and Wagga Wagga, four weekly flights between Melbourne and Albury, and five weekly services between Adelaide and Mount Gambier.

Qantas said that the new routes would “largely be operated by the airline’s 50-seat Q300 turboprop aircraft, with upgraded cabin interiors”.

The airline is also increasing the frequency of its flights between Melbourne and Gold Coast (from daily to twice daily) from April.

Other routes set to see a boost in services next year include:

  • Sydney to Orange, increasing from three flights per week to daily from February 2021
  • Melbourne to Launceston will be upgraded from a Q400 aircraft to a larger Boeing 717, adding more 400 seats on the route each week
  • Perth-Hobart, Canberra-Hobart, Sydney-Merimbula and Brisbane-Port Macquarie have all been extended from summer-seasonal services to year-round

QantasLink CEO John Gissing said that the airline’s aircraft “carry fixed costs, regardless of whether they’re grounded or not”.

“We’d rather get as many aircraft back in the air as we can because it’s better for our business, our customers and gets more of our people back to work,” he added.

“As the national carrier, we have an important role to play in driving tourism and supporting the industry’s recovery,” continued Gissing.

“Before Covid, more than 11 million Australians travelled overseas each year, so these flights will help convert some of these international trips into domestic holidays instead.

“We know there is significant pent up demand for travel. These new flights will help more Australians explore some of the incredible places in their own backyard and drive tourism, which is so vital to the local economies of regional areas.

“We’ll be promoting these new flights to millions of our frequent flyers across the country in the lead up to the flights commencing next year.

“We’re also pleased to be able to offer locals more choice and competitive fares on these routes, most of which have been monopolies for years.”

Earlier this month Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that strong domestic demand and a surge in cargo volumes had led to capacity increasing to around 68 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, up from about 40 per cent earlier this year.

Qantas hopes domestic demand will repair finances

However this was before Australian states and territories began placing a travel ban on Sydney residents this week, due to a new coronavirus outbreak in the city.