Qantas Preparing To Skip Perth For UK Flights

Today, September 27th, the Qantas Group updated its flying schedule to fit with the reopening plans and latest…

Qantas Preparing To Skip Perth For UK Flights

Today, September 27th, the Qantas Group updated its flying schedule to fit with the reopening plans and latest border assumptions across much of Australia. Assuming vaccination thresholds are reached, this will see international flights gradually restart in late December. However, the airline’s flagship service to London will not be using Perth until at least April 2022. Let’s find out why.

Qantas deploys its Boeing 787-9s on the ultra-long-haul service. Photo: Qantas

Before the crisis, London-Perth was Qantas’ ultra-long-haul service connecting Australia with London. London-bound passengers from various Australian cities would be channeled to Perth on various flights, transit in the Western Australian city, and board a Boeing 787-9. Conversely, travelers from London would board a 787-9 at Heathrow bound for Perth to subsequently connect to the rest of the country.

Western Australia’s restrictions force rerouting

“Australia is expected to have reached National Cabinet’s ‘Phase C’ vaccination threshold of 80%” by late December, Qantas notes. This will be the magic number for the government to permit regularly scheduled international flights again. However, Qantas is emphasizing that it will temporarily reroute its flagship Perth-London service until at least April 2022 “due to the latest WA [Western Australia] border settings and assumptions.”

“At this stage, WA doesn’t intend to open to international travel until sometime next year, so we’ll, unfortunately, have to temporarily move our Perth-London service until at least April 2022.” -Alan Joyce

Stopover Qantas
Qantas is in “detailed discussions” with Darwin. Photo: GCMap.com

What will Qantas use instead of Perth?

According to Qantas, it is in detailed discussions with the NT (The Northern Territory) Government and Darwin Airport. These discussions will evaluate operating the direct London flight from Darwin during this time. Indeed, the airline goes on to say that it “has successfully used Darwin as a hub for its repatriation flights” to various destinations across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East over the past year.

“The discussions for what would be a daily Melbourne-Darwin-London service focus on the logistics of domestic and international transit under the current NT Government Plan for COVID-Management at Stage 3 of the National Plan.” -Qantas

Darwin is the primary choice for Qantas. However, if discussions fall through, then the airline says that it will instead fly the service through Singapore Changi (Melbourne-Singapore-London) instead, until at least April 2022.

A decision on the exact routing is likely to be made within the next two weeks.

qantas 787
The move could be a hit to Perth Airport’s revenues but a win for Darwin if the deal goes through. Photo: Qantas

“We look forward to operating this flight via Perth again when circumstances allow,” CEO Alan Joyce affirms. Perth Airport was contacted by Simple Flying for a comment on the matter, but no response was received at the time of this article’s publication.

Stay informed:  for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Darwin vs. Singapore – Which is better?

As Executive Traveler points out, there are pros and cons to going with either Darwin or Singapore. Stopping in Singapore risks complications with COVID restrictions and requirements. Cutting out a third country reduces these potential complications. At the same time, however, Singapore Changi is a great airport to stop at, and has the infrastructure in place to serve premium travelers with the presence of a Qantas first class lounge and separate business class lounge.

Conversely, stopping in Darwin reduces restriction requirements to two countries. Choosing this airport would also foster good relations domestically as airport and user fees would continue to “stay local” and support the national economy. The major drawback for travelers is the lack of premium lounges, with just a single Qantas Club lounge located at the airport’s domestic section.

What do you think of this move? Would you prefer to transit in Darwin or Singapore? Let us know in the comments section.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Cathay Pacific’s International Pilots Denied Visas For Hong Kong

Almost 500 non-local Cathay Pacific pilots have had their work permit applications knocked back by Hong Kong’s Immigration…

Cathay Pacific’s International Pilots Denied Visas For Hong Kong

Almost 500 non-local Cathay Pacific pilots have had their work permit applications knocked back by Hong Kong’s Immigration Department. Cathy Pacific has confirmed 496 pilots whose jobs were dependant on securing work permits have failed to get the necessary tick of approval from Hong Kong authorities.

Hong Kong authorities have rejected applications for work permits by nearly 500 Cathay Pacific pilots. Photo: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific pilot jobs contingent on relocating to Hong Kong

According to a report by Danny Lee in The South China Morning Post on the weekend,  Cathay Pacific pilots based in places like Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia have attempted to relocate to Hong Kong to hold onto their jobs at the airline.

Cathay Pacific has shut several offshore pilot bases this year as it attempts to cut costs as anemic levels of flying slowly strangle the airline. As bases closed, Cathay Pacific told pilots they needed to move to Hong Kong to keep their jobs.

But Hong Kong’s Immigration Department declined every application for work permits from these pilots, many of whom have worked for Cathay Pacific for years.

“We have been informed by the Immigration Department that the work permit applications from overseas-based pilots who have applied to relocate to Hong Kong have been rejected,” Cathay Pacific confirmed.

“We are reaching out to support these officers, many of whom will have the opportunity to elect an enhanced termination benefit.”

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Hundreds of Cathay Pacific pilots will likely lose their jobs after work permit applications were rejected. Photo: Getty Images

UK & US Cathay Pacific pilot jobs also at risk

Of the 496 work permit applied for, 423 of those pilots had previously been issued work permits allowing residency in Hong Kong at some point in time. Three hundred and twelve pilots currently living and working in Hong Kong on work permits had those permits extended, but 111 Cathay Pacific pilots did not.

The number of rejected work permit applications is likely to increase. This month, Cathay Pacific confirmed it would close its London pilot base, putting the jobs of the 100 odd pilots based there at risk. Pilot bases in the United States also face an uncertain future with a decision on their future to be made later this year, risking a further 140 US-based pilot jobs.

“Sadly, this represents yet another blow to those who have staked their career on Cathay Pacific Airways,” said Alex Jackson, chairman of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association.

“This decision was one made by the Hong Kong government, the options for a better resolution were limited and outside our control, especially in the current climate.”

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Cathay Pacific is only flying a fraction of its 2019 capacity. Photo: Cathay Pacific

High levels of unemployment among existing Hong Kong-based pilots

It seems high local pilot unemployment levels are behind the decision not to issue work permits.  In 2020, Cathay Pacific axed 5,900 jobs, including pilot roles. The airline has trimmed an additional 2,500 jobs this year as it flies at less than 15% of its 2019 levels. There are around 3,000 surviving pilots based in Hong Kong. They’ve agreed to long-term pay cuts to hold onto their jobs.

But the offshore-based pilots are not so lucky. However, with so many pilots living in Hong Kong out of work, some argue Hong Kong needs to look after its own people first. The South China Morning Post says 300 pilots living in Hong Kong are out of work, including many former Cathay Dragon pilots.

“It is good to see that immigration is recognizing this, and denying new work visas as per their own policy, and we still hope that they extend this to visa renewals to expedite the re-employment of local pilots,” the newspaper quotes an unnamed spokesperson for the unemployed pilots saying.

It is a grim situation all round for all Cathay Pacific employees. But Cathay’s pilots based outside Hong Kong who’ve given years, even decades to the airline, might rightly feel short-changed right now.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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