QANTAS: Dumps Singapore. All UK flights via Darwin!
In Shock! Horror! news (if you were hoping to enjoy the Qantas Singapore Premium Lounge), Qantas will be re-routing all its London flights, that’s QF1 & QF2 from Sydney and QF10 &QF11 from Melbourne, will now travel via Darwin and not Singapore.
Qantas announced the change around 8 pm AEDT on Friday 8 October 2021 via Media Release and the change comes into force when Qantas resumes flying later this month (14 November 2021).
This has been made possible by an agreement between the Northern Territory Government, Darwin Airport and the Qantas Group and will run at least 14 November and April 2022 – so yah-boo-sucks to you Mark McGowan, the Western Australian Premier. Qantas hopes to return to via-Perth after that, but it is making no promises.
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Start dates, frequencies and departure times
For Sydney-Darwin-London, flights start on 14 November 2021, and for Melbourne-Darwin-London, flights at the moment are scheduled to start a month later on 18 December 2021. However – if Victorian borders open sooner, and quarantine periods in Victoria are shortened, then flights might commence sooner. However, with new COVID cases running at nearly 2,000 today in Victoria, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
QF1 starting on 14 November 2021 will departing Sydney 5 times a week at 6.30pm, land in Darwin at 9.25pm for a refuelling stop and then travel the 13,800km, 17-hour, 20 minute non-stop journey to London Heathrow .
“The NT Government has worked closely with us to make these flights happen and I’d like to thank the Chief Minister and his team for finding a solution that is safe and streamlined.”
The Kangaroo route is one of the most iconic on the Qantas international network and we are delighted that Darwin will play a vital role in Australia’s post pandemic reopening to the world.
Qantas has been flying repatriation services from London to Darwin as part of the airline’s efforts to help bring Australians home over the past 12 months, so our pilots already have extensive experience operating this particular route.”Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce
There will be 2 stages for transit arrangments reflection Territory COVID arrangements. Stage 1 all passengers going, either way, will have access to the international lounge and retail at Darwin Airport. If you are moving on from Melbourne or Sydney to another state – then you will also be subject to that state’s guidelines.
When stage two arrives, transiting passengers will be able to leave the terminal and visit Darwin. Passengers in Darwin can also join the Darwin-London leg if they wish to.
Darwin Airport only has one international lounge and it’s operated by the Airport. We presume that The Catalina Lounge, circa 2016 opens for every international flight in or out of Darwin is the one Qantas will use. It will be first in best dressed in this 70 seater lounge. That’s the capacity under normal circumstances, so it may be subject to a lower limit due to COVID restrictions.
Back to the Future
This is a bit of a turn back time moment given that Darwin was part of the original 1947 Kangaroo Route which over 4 days covered Sydney to Darwin, Singapore, Calcutta, Karachi, Bahrain, Cairo, Castel Benito (an Italian airport outside Tripoli, Libya) and then to London.
Another reason to get Vaccinated
Remember that Qantas will only take you as a passenger if you are fully vaccinated and can prove it, and for international travel you will also be required to return a negative PCR COVID test at least 48 hours prior to departure and home quarantine for seven days on arrival into New South Wales
Qantas will restart flights from Sydney to Los Angeles in November with all other international routes currently scheduled to resume from 18 December 2021. Just remember that international travel is in a state of flux, not to mention the Australian state borders. Expect Qantas routes and services to change as Australian border and quarantine restrictions change.
I will miss the Singapore lounge. It was one of my delights in travelling to London with Qantas, to have a quick shower and feel refreshed before the next leg to London. Oh well, at least the route to London will be active again.
Remember to run for that Catalina Lounge in Darwin with only 35 to 70 passenger capacity – remember it’s not a Qantas exclusive lounge.