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Qantas confirms plans to operate London flights via Darwin

Australian flag carrier Qantas has confirmed plans to operate London flights via Darwin. The confirmation comes after the airline brought forward the resumption dates of London and Los Angeles flights.


Qantas will operate flights to London Heathrow via Darwin when international flights resume next month with the reopening of Australia’s border. The carrier has reached an agreement with the Northern Territory Government and Darwin Airport to temporarily reroute its flights from Melbourne and Sydney via Darwin.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Qantas used to operate flights to London via Perth. However, with the state of Western Australia having some of the toughest border restrictions, it is not expected anytime soon that the state will reopen its borders. As a result, Qantas has been forced to reroute its flights.

The Darwin hub arrangement will be in place in time for borders reopening from 14th November 2021 until at least April 2022 when London flights are scheduled to operate via Perth again. However, while this is a temporary change to the route, Qantas states that it will watch how it performs and is ‘open-minded’ about what it could lead to down the track.

Starting 14th November 2021, Qantas will operate Sydney-Darwin-London flights. The Melbourne-Darwin-London route is currently scheduled to begin on 18th December 2021 but could start earlier depending on the airline’s discussions with the Victorian Government on shorter quarantine arrangements for returning travellers.

Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas Group, said:

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.

Michael Gunner, Chief Minister, Northern Territory, said:

Darwin is Australia’s comeback capital, and now we’re taking the comeback direct to Europe. From Parap to Piccadilly, the opportunities are endless. The convenience of this route will mean tapping into brand new markets for tourism and business. It will also open up new opportunities for developing the aviation skills sector here in the Northern Territory. I thank Qantas and the Darwin International Airport for working with us to turn this direct route into reality, which will mark a real turning point for the nation as we work towards the next stages of the National Plan.


Qantas states that the passenger transit arrangements will be split into two stages to reflect COVID-safe arrangements in the Territory itself. In stage 1, transiting passengers from all Australian states, or returning from London, will be able to visit the international lounge and shops at Darwin Airport. Passengers travelling from London to Sydney and Melbourne via Darwin and wanting to travel onwards to other Australian cities may also be subject to state and territory quarantine requirements.

However in stage 2, transiting passengers will have the option to leave the terminal and visit Darwin, providing a tangible tourism boost for the city.

Additionally, travellers from Darwin can also book nonstop flight to London.

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The Sydney-Darwin-London flights will run 5-times-a-week with the following schedule:

  • Sydney-Darwin
  • Departure time: 18:30
  • Arrival time: 21:25
  • Flight time: 4 hours and 25 minutes
  • Flight number: QF1
  • Frequency: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays
  • Darwin-London
  • Departure time: 22:30
  • Arrival time: 06:50 (the next day)
  • Flight time: 17 hours and 25 minutes
  • Flight number: QF1
  • Frequency: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays
  • London-Darwin
  • Departure time: 09:50
  • Arrival time: 11:45 (the next day)
  • Flight time: 16 hours and 25 minutes
  • Flight number: QF2
  • Sydney-Darwin
  • Departure time: 13:35 (the next day)
  • Arrival time: 19:05 (the next day)
  • Flight time: 4 hours and 20 minutes
  • Flight number: QF2

All passengers on Qantas’ international flights will be required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved or recognised vaccine (some exemptions are there for medical reasons and children).They will also be required to present a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test conducted at least 48 hours prior to departure and home quarantine for seven days on arrival into New South Wales.

Qantas’ Darwin history

Qantas has a long history of serving Darwin. The city was the jump off point from Australia for the launch of the national carrier’s first international flight in 1935 from Brisbane to Singapore via Darwin.

In addition to this, Darwin was also part of the original 1947 Kangaroo Route between London and Sydney which took 4 days and flew from Sydney to Darwin and then onwards to Singapore, Calcutta, Karachi, Bahrain, Cairo and Castel Benito before landing in London.

As a result of repatriation flights, this year marks the first time Qantas has operated flights into Darwin Airport from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America, making it the first airport in Australia to have received non-stop flights from all inhabited continents of the world.

Meanwhile, Qantas recently announced that it is presently in the process of finalising a 10 year Domestic Fleet Renewal Program.

Featured image by Qantas

What do you think of Qantas’ decision to reroute London flights via Darwin? Let me know in the comments section below.

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