Qantas hints at new Perth–Johannesburg route

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Qantas 787 Dreamliner, VH-ZNJ, named Longreach in Qantas Centenary livery (Victor Pody)

Qantas has hinted it could soon launch a new service between Perth and Johannesburg.

The West Australian reports that the service is being lined up to fill the void left by South African Airways, which made its staff redundant in April 2020.

Qantas appeared to confirm an announcement could be imminent, telling the newspaper it had its eye on the route for “some time”.

“There are still some hurdles we need to clear, including coming to an agreement with Perth Airport, before we would be confident we could make this route a success”, it said.

Perth said in response it was “happy to continue discussions with Qantas about a potential Johannesburg service”.

World of Aviation reported how South African Airway’s demise followed its national government ruling out further assistance to the struggling airline.

The airline had been struggling prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with the South African government contributing $1.1 billion over three years to keep the airline running.

However, the airline subsequently resumed in September last year with a streamlined fleet.

The news of the Qantas route comes on the day the Flying Kangaroo is set to launch its landmark first flight between Perth and Rome.

The 787 service, which the airline says is now the only direct flight between Australia and mainland Europe, will depart as QF5 at 10:20pm local time.

It comes weeks after Qantas launched the first non-stop flight between Perth and London.

The popular UK route had been on pause since the beginning of the pandemic, with Qantas opting to shift the layover from eastern states headed to London from Perth to Darwin due to WA’s “conservative border policies”.

Meanwhile, the airline’s QF1 route, which operates from Sydney-Singapore-London on the airline’s flagship A380 aircraft, resumed from 19 June, meaning Darwin will no longer operate as an entry or exit port for Qantas flights to London.

Qantas also operates QF1 from Melbourne-Perth-London six times per week – with flights departing every day except Thursdays.

Finally, in May, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce also confirmed Project Sunrise A350s will eventually service its shorter Perth-London route from 2026.

It’s not known whether the ultra-long-haul Airbus will operate alongside or replace the 787s currently used.

Joyce told The West Australian  that the switch would occur because “we need the extra seats”.

Qantas has said the Airbuses will carry 238 passengers across four classes, compared to the similarly configured Boeing aircraft.

However, the newer aircraft will feature lavish first-class rooms onboard with a door, bed, and 32-inch TV.

The decision will come as yet another blow to Boeing in Australia after the Flying Kangaroo chose Airbus to effectively replace its fleet of 737 domestic aircraft.

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