Qantas has announced that it will continue to operate its route from Australia to London via Darwin until “at least June 2022”.

The continued closure of Western Australia’s borders led Qantas last November to use Darwin airport as a temporary departure point for its nonstop London flights.

The Perth-London service was scheduled to return in April, but has been delayed due to the “ongoing uncertainty” around the reopening of the West Australian border and “testing requirements for passengers transiting through Singapore”.

The carrier will also continue to operate the Sydney-London flight via Darwin instead of through Singapore “to streamline transit arrangements for passengers”.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce commented:

“The work of the Chief Minister and his team, and the cooperation of Darwin Airport, have made running and now extending this service possible. Because of their help, flying between Australia and London has been a lot easier than it might have been otherwise.

“This extension through to at least mid-June means the Top End [the northern areas of the Northern Territory] has several months to properly leverage the opening up of Australia’s borders to all tourists. It’s a great opportunity to encourage thousands of visitors to stop off in Darwin to see what the NT [Northern Territory] has to offer.”

Qantas currently operates daily flights from both Melbourne and Sydney to London via Darwin on its B787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The airline also announced today that it will base four Embraer E190 jets at Darwin airport, to be operated by its regional subsidiary QantasLink for routes across Australia and from Darwin to Dili in East Timor.

The aircraft will feature QantasLink livery and offer both business and economy class cabins with up to 97 seats and a five-hour range. They will be deployed on Qantas’ network as part of a three-year deal with Alliance Airlines to “ramp up domestic flights and increase connections and schedules between smaller capital cities and regional centres”.

Additionally, the Darwin-Dili service will become a permanent commercial route with the E190 aircraft operating three flights per week, ramping up to five per week from July.

Joyce commented:

“The E190 is a fantastic aircraft and the new routes and frequencies they have supported means that Darwin is better positioned to take advantage of the comeback of domestic tourism and business travel. Basing these aircraft in Darwin means securing more jobs and a stronger local aviation industry.

“As we prepare to welcome back international visitors, the E190s will make it easier to fly directly between Darwin and other popular tourist destinations including Alice Springs for central Australia, encouraging travellers to see more of Australia.

“The E190 allows us to improve our schedule for NT [Northern Territory] travellers. When we first introduced the E190 on our Darwin to Adelaide flights, we were able to double the number of flights we offered each day, giving customers more choice about when they travel. We look forward to providing this flexibility across other new and existing routes.”

The Qantas Group currently operates a total 18 routes from Darwin, Alice Springs and Ayers Rock Airports and connects Darwin directly to eight domestic destinations.

Australia plans to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated international travellers from February 21.