Qantas has announced changes to its Northern Territory network with new routes, schedule changes, bigger aircraft and discounted fares for some residents. Changes include the launch of two new routes to Uluru (Ayers Rock Airport) from Darwin and Adelaide. Flights will operate twice per week on both routes with a Boeing 737 aircraft.
In response to feedback from local businesses, government and the tourism industry, network changes will see flights between Alice Springs and Darwin upgraded from a Boeing 717 to a Boeing 737 aircraft, an increase of up to 1,300 seats per week on the route. The change means customers will have the option to travel in Business Class and introduce inflight entertainment, including fast, free Wi-Fi on selected flights.
Flights between Perth and Darwin will operate daily, year-round (down from eleven per week during peak season), and flights between Perth and Alice Springs will move from daily to two per week.
Jetstar will increase flights between Cairns and Darwin from four per week to daily during peak season while Qantas will cease flights on the route.
Qantas will cease flights between Cairns and Alice Springs. Connections are available for customers to fly between Cairns and Alice Springs via Uluru.
The new routes and network changes will start from 31 March 2019 and are on sale now.
Qantas Domestic CEO Andrew David said the changes were about having the right aircraft on the right route, with a schedule that reflects customer demand from both holiday and business travellers.
“Qantas and Jetstar continue to bring more international and interstate tourists to the Northern Territory than any other airlines and provides important connections within,” David said.
“We are seeing strong demand for some flights to the Northern Territory but there are some areas where we are seeing weaker demand from places like Cairns and Perth. We are adding more flights or bigger aircraft where we see demand or new tourism opportunities and we are making changes to routes which are just not sustainable.
“Our flights between Cairns and Alice Springs, and Cairns and Darwin, are on average only operating around half full, which is not sustainable. So we have decided to redirect these aircraft to other routes in the Northern Territory and other parts of our network.
“Uluru is in more demand from international and interstate tourists than we have seen in a long time. In the past few years the Qantas Group has added new routes and more flights to Uluru from Brisbane and Sydney and now Adelaide and Darwin.
“As the national carrier, we are proud to work with the Northern Territory Government to promote the Territory to travellers from around the world and in our own backyard, which is so vital to the local economy.”
NT Minister for Tourism and Culture Lauren Moss said the new Uluru-Darwin service “will provide a boost to Top End tourism as well as supporting tourism throughout Central Australia.”
“We know that more visitors to Uluru means more visitors throughout Central Australia, with over half of international holiday visitors to Uluru also spending at least one night in Alice Springs,” Moss said.
Customers holding existing bookings who are impacted any of the schedule changes will be provided with alternate travel options.
Lead image: Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner at Ayers Rock Airport. Photo Credit: James Morgan.