SYDNEY — Australia’s largest airline Qantas will soon extend its services to provide the nation’s only direct flights to continental Europe.
From next June, Qantas will offer return flights three times a week from the largest city of Sydney to Perth Western Australia (WA) and then non-stop to the Italian capital of Rome.
The service, in Boeing 787 Dreamliners with cabins designed for long-haul flights, will cut more than three hours off present travel times.
The announcement on Wednesday came a day after WA Premier Mark McGowan confirmed the state’s domestic and international borders would reopen from Feb. 5 following lengthy closures due to COVID-19.
Overseas arrivals would still need to present a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test three days before arrival in WA and get tested again on arrival but, if vaccinated, they would not have to spend time in quarantine, McGowan said.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said strong travel demand since the borders had reopened had given the “Flying Kangaroo” confidence to explore new destinations, adding that in a post-pandemic world, many Australians prefer non-stop international flights.
“Italy is the largest market for us in continental Europe for people visiting family and friends from Australia and we think customers will love flying direct to one of the world’s great cities,” Joyce said.
McGowan and Joyce said the new route was also expected to bolster the local tourism industry, with Qantas to partner with Tourism Western Australia to encourage an influx of European visitors.
“The new route will open up our tourism industry to vaccinated overseas visitors who will see Perth and WA as an appealing and safe destination with unique attractions that can’t be experienced anywhere else,” McGowan said.