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Australian Government Subsidise Qantas and Virgin Australia Flights

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Tom Goward | 17/04/2020

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Thanks to a $165 million ‘minimum domestic network’ package from the Federal Government, Qantas and Virgin Australia (even after moving into voluntary administration) are set to reinstate over 220 routes to help bring passengers home and enable essential travellers to continue flying. The revised schedule begins today (April 17) and is set to continue over eight weeks until 7 June 2020. The minimum domestic network is set to be reviewed by airlines and the federal government before it ends and to consider an extension.

The underwritten schedule will see Qantas and Virgin Australia service all capital airports, plus 36 larger regional centres. This is great news for some lucky airline staff, with hundreds of pilots, cabin crew and ground staff coming back to work after being stood down. The news isn’t quite as positive for airlines themselves, as the minimum domestic network is not positioned as a money maker. While government funding will ensure that flights don’t operate at a loss, the airlines most likely won’t see a profit either.

Flights are set to be sold as normal commercial tickets, plus travellers will continue to earn frequent flyer points and status credits where normally eligible. Passengers travelling on these services should be prepared for a reduced meal service, little to no inflight entertainment and social distancing seat assignments.

Qantas’ new domestic schedule

Qantas is upping weekly passenger flights to 164 services per week, flying to every capital city and 36 regional destinations. Services are to be operated by a mix of Airbus A330s, Boeing 737s, Dash 8 turboprops and Jetstar Airbus A320s.

Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar will operate between the following destinations:

Trunk routes:

  • Adelaide – Melbourne
  • Adelaide – Sydney
  • Brisbane – Melbourne
  • Brisbane – Sydney
  • Canberra – Melbourne
  • Canberra – Sydney
  • Melbourne – Hobart
  • Melbourne – Perth
  • Melbourne – Sydney
  • Perth – Sydney

Regional network:

  • Albury – Sydney
  • Armidale – Sydney
  • Ballina – Sydney
  • Coffs Harbour – Sydney
  • Dubbo – Sydney
  • Lord Howe Island – Sydney
  • Tamworth – Sydney
  • Wagga Wagga – Sydney
  • Melbourne – Mildura
  • Melbourne – Launceston
  • Brisbane – Cairns
  • Brisbane – Emerald
  • Brisbane – Gladstone
  • Brisbane – Mt Isa
  • Brisbane – Longreach
  • Brisbane – Mackay
  • Brisbane – Moranbah
  • Brisbane – Roma
  • Brisbane – Rockhampton
  • Brisbane – Townsville
  • Cloncurry – Mt Isa
  • Cloncurry – Townsville
  • Cairns – Horne Island
  • Cairns – Townsville
  • Cairns – Weipa
  • Charleville – Roma
  • Mt Isa – Townsville
  • Mackay – Rockhampton
  • Mackay – Townsville
  • Townsville – Rockhampton
  • Adelaide – Kangaroo Island
  • Adelaide – Port Lincoln
  • Adelaide – Whyalla
  • Alice Springs – Darwin
  • Alice Springs – Sydney
  • Brisbane – Darwin
  • Newman – Perth
  • Broome – Perth
  • Geraldton – Perth
  • Kalgoorlie – Perth
  • Learmonth – Perth
  • Port Hedland – Perth
  • Karratha – Perth

Virgin Australia’s new domestic schedule

Virgin Australia is set to operate 64 return services per week, with flights already back on sale. Virgin Australia is also providing passengers with excellent flexibility by allowing travellers to change flights to any day within the period without any fees or fare differences. The table below lists the routes and days of operation, with one return flight on each specified day.

RouteDays of Operation
Brisbane – CairnsMon, Wed, Fri
Brisbane – MackayWeekdays
Brisbane – RockhamptonMon, Wed, Fri
Brisbane – TownsvilleMon, Wed, Fri
Melbourne – AdelaideMon, Wed, Fri
Melbourne – BrisbaneDaily
Melbourne – CanberraMon, Tue, Thu
Melbourne – PerthDaily
Perth – BroomeMon, Wed, Fri
Perth – KalgoorlieWed, Thu
Perth – KununurraMon, Fri
Perth – KarrathaTue, Thu
Perth – Port HedlandTue, Thu
Perth – NewmanWed, Thu
Sydney – BrisbaneDaily
Sydney – MelbourneDaily
Sydney – Gold CoastMon, Wed, Fri

Summing up

It is excellent to see the Australian Government agree to subsidise a minimum domestic network with both Qantas and Virgin Australia. Not only does this package give stranded passengers a better chance of getting home, and ensure that critical freight routes continue to operate, but it provides some hope for the airline industry.

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Tom Goward

Tom is a Hobart-based writer with a passion for aviation and travel.

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