Qantas has brought forward its plan to resume QF1 from Sydney to London to November 1st, aided by the reopening of its international borders in New South Wales to those fully vaccinated that day. It will operate through Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, temporarily replacing Perth. The cost of doing a round-trip Sydney-Darwin-Heathrow? Roughly A $ 598,000, according to data expert RDC Aviation. But that’s cheaper than transit to Singapore.

From November 1st, Qantas will use the B787-9 from Sydney via Darwin to London. Photo: Qantas

Qantas to London

The Australian airline had expected to re-launch its “Kangeroo” route from Sydney to London Heathrow in December, but it has been postponed to mid-November and will now resume on November 1st. Melbourne is coming to Heathrow from December 18, just in time for Christmas.

New South Wales will reopen to fully vaccinated travelers on November 1, none of whom will need to be quarantined on arrival. In reality, the border will only be open to Australian citizens, permanent residents, and immediate families, but it’s a start. Victoria has not yet confirmed when it will reopen, but it is expected to be shortly. Building on this, the relaunch of Melbourne-London is being pushed forward or backward.

Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner VH-ZNH (2)The B787 went to London as scheduled from March 2018. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying.

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All London flights are operated via Darwin

Darwin has played an essential role in the repatriation of Australians stuck abroad, including from London and Buenos Aires, largely because of its quarantine facilities. So far, however, Darwin has not had an extended non-stop service to London Heathrow.

This will change in November and December, when Sydney and Melbourne both travel to the UK capital via Darwin, with the following timetable (all times are local time). Sydney will initially be four-week but will increase to seven-week, while Melbourne will be seven-week from the start.

  • Resumption on November 1st: QF1, Sydney-Darwin-London: 18: 30-21: 25, 22: 55-06: 50 + 1
  • Resumption on November 2nd: QF2, London-Darwin-Sydney: 09: 50-11: 45 + 1; 13: 15-19: 05
  • Resumption December 18: QF9, Melbourne-Darwin-London: 19: 40-22: 20, 23: 50-07: 45 + 1
  • Resumption on December 19: QF10, London-Darwin-Melbourne: 11: 20-13: 15 + 1, 14: 45-20: 25

B787-9s with 236 seats are used on both routes, with 42 seats in business, 28 in premium economy and 166 in economy class. Qantas now has 11 B787s.

Qantas to LondonFrom the end of March 2022, Qantas plans to return to Melbourne-Perth-London and Sydney-Singapore-London. Image: GCMap.

From Darwin to London is bookable, but …

Significantly, Darwin-Heathrow-Darwin can be booked independently, but only on QF9 / QF10. In theory, that means more than just a refueling stop. In reality it is only a 90 minute refueling stop. In fact, the Northern Territory will remain closed to international travelers until 2022.

Booking data shows that only about 10,000 round-trip point-to-point passengers flew between Darwin and London in 2019, a tiny amount for an ultra-long-haul market. By comparison, Perth-London had over 250,000. But it’s not about Darwin’s numbers.

Although dates are subject to change, starting March 27, the first day of the Northern Hemisphere summer flying season (Southern Hemisphere winter season), all Qantas Melbourne-London flights are expected to return to Perth. At the same time, Sydney will again pass through Singapore.

From Darwin to LondonDarwin can be booked although the Northern Territory does not (yet) accept international passengers. Image: via Google Flights.

$ 598k return Sydney-Darwin-London

According to RDC Aviation’s Apex Route Performance module, a Qantas round trip between Sydney and London via Darwin will have operating costs of approximately A $ 598,000. This is based on a block time of 1,270 minutes, assumes full airport and passenger fees, and is based on a fuel consumption of $ 2.14 per US gallon.

Qantas costs from Darwin to HeathrowThis particular image has a breakdown of the estimated cost of Qantas and other details just for the Darwin to Heathrow route, which is approximately A $ 472,614 round-trip. This snapshot was taken from his Apex Route Performance module on October 19, 2021. Image: RDC Aviation.

Cheaper via Darwin than Singapore

As you might expect, operating the 10,577 nautical miles from Sydney via Darwin is inevitably very expensive. However, RDC, the aeronautical data company, shows it is cheaper than operating through Singapore. That would be about $ 644,000, or nearly 8% more.

Of course, it’s important to know that all of this relates to the cost of ownership in terms of breakeven point. It’s not about profitability. Singapore is more expensive, but – in normal times – will produce a much higher volume of passengers and has strong premium and overall demand. As Iain Smith, director at RDC Aviation, told the author:

“The difference in operating costs is almost entirely due to the additional costs associated with the additional flight time, especially the fuel. It is very interesting to note that the total travel time, cost and break-even requirement for flights from Sydney via Darwin to London will be much lower compared to transit via Singapore. “

RDC Aviation AustraliaRDC Aviation is a data company for airlines, airports and other organizations. This snapshot was taken from his Apex Route Performance module on October 19, 2021. Image: RDC Aviation.

Qantas to Europe

Between 2004 and 2019, Qantas offered 33.9 million seats for sale to / from Europe based on the timetable information submitted to the OAG. The peak year was 2011, when there were only 67,394 seats left before the three million mark.

While Qantas stopped supplying non-UK European countries in 2013, France saw its metals until 2004 and Germany until 2013. Both used B747-400. Frankfurt was connected to Sydney via Singapore. The loss of Frankfurt is the result of the Qantas-Emirates partnership founded in 2013 and extended until 2028.

The reason for the partnership was simple: Qantas would avoid loss-making (or at least marginal) non-core routes to Europe while benefiting from Emirates’ extensive European coverage. Emirates would benefit from better access to Australia. When Qantas started in Dubai in April 2013, the couple had 98 weekly outbound flights, 17% more than the week before.

Qantas to EuropeFor obvious reasons, London has always been Qantas’ main market to Europe. Since 2004 it has served Heathrow via Dubai (until 2018), Hong Kong (2012), Bangkok (2012), Singapore (until 2014, then again from 2018) and Perth (from 2018). Data source: BA.

Australia to Europe: a summary

Across all airlines, according to booking data in 2019, around 5.4 million round-trip passengers traveled between Australia and Europe. Over 14,500 people flew to / from Europe every day.

More than 2.6 million passengers (48%) traveled to / from the UK, with Germany following in second place with around 600,000. Next came Italy, France, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Switzerland and Denmark. Emirates, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Qantas carried around eight out of ten European passengers.

Emirates A380Emirates carried more passengers from Australia to Europe than any other airline. Photo: Dubai Airports.

Top 10 markets from Australia to the UK

Looking at all airlines, the main UK departure and destination locations in 2019 were as follows. Even number ten, Manchester to Brisbane, had over 50,000 round-trip passengers. On average, around 140 people flew between Manchester and the Queensland capital every day.

  1. Heathrow to Sydney
  2. Heathrow to Melbourne
  3. Heathrow to Brisbane
  4. Heathrow to Perth
  5. Manchester to Sydney
  6. Gatwick to Sydney
  7. Heathrow to Adelaide
  8. Manchester to Perth
  9. Manchester to Melbourne
  10. Manchester to Brisbane

Even regional UK airports had good traffic to Australia. Newcastle, for example, saw over 35,000 passengers excluding those who “leaked” to Scotland or Manchester to fly. The majority of Newcastle passengers have flown with Emirates, which have now returned to the Northeast Airport.

Are you planning a trip from Europe to Australia or vice versa? Let us know in the comments.