Qantas has confirmed it will operate its flagship direct route from Australia to London via Darwin when international flights resume next month with the reopening of the border.
The deal means customers and frequent flyers of both airlines will have access to an expansive joint network across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK.
The news comes in response to an announcement from the Australian federal government that the country will reopen its border from November.
Qantas has posted an AUS$2.6 billion (£1.2 billion) full-year loss for 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. However, with vaccination increasing, the carrier is preparing to return later this year.
There will be exemptions for those who are unable to be jabbed for documented medical reasons, though this is expected to be “very rare”. The process will be complete by March next year.
Around 2,500 frontline Qantas and Jetstar employees will be stood down for an estimated two months in response to ongoing Covid-19 outbreaks in Australia.
The carrier last operated mystery flights in the 1990s when travellers would turn up at the airport and be allocated seats on a scheduled flight to any of the airline’s destinations.
Qantas and Jetstar are hoping to restart regular international passenger flights to most destinations from October 31st. The delay represents a four-month delay on existing plans.
Ticket sales for Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, which had been set to start in March, have been pushed back to July, while other destinations like London have been brought forward from October.
Qantas has notified around 2,000 employees that it will move to outsource ground handling operations at ten airports across Australia as it battles back from the Covid-19 shutdown.