The highly anticipated Qantas service direct from Perth to Johannesburg will once again begin to take off on 1 November despite earlier biosecurity disputes.
However, it will be suspended indefinitely in March 2023.
The service, as well as the new direct flight from Perth to Jakarta that was similarly due to launch on 30 November, were both “temporarily paused” earlier this month as the airline looked to solve biosecurity and customs conditions with government departments.
Both flights were announced in a joint press conference held by WA Premier Mark McGowen and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, a pair who have previously shared their differences over travel restrictions.
Now, the Johannesburg service will run for a limited time, whilst the Jakarta flight will be scrapped altogether.
The two flights were to be introduced as part of Western Australia’s $185m ‘Reconnect WA’ package that hoped to turn Perth airport into a hub for international travel.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns, WA was known for having some of the strictest border restrictions in the country, with the new package hoping to restore Perth’s international tourism.
Whilst the state government’s website says that “There are no longer any restrictions on travel to WA…”, the state still maintains strict biosecurity legislation.
The issue with the new services is that Terminal 3 (T3) of Perth airport lacks the infrastructure to meet the biosecurity screening standards for higher-risk destinations such as South Africa.
“Infrastructure constraints at Terminal 3 make it difficult to deliver the levels of border security and biosecurity screening required to process passengers from some destinations, including South Africa,” said Qantas in a statement.
In response to this, travel from Johannesburg to Perth will split arrival between T3 and Terminal 1 (T1) over the services running period.
For the initial period after the service launches on November 1st, flight QF66 from Johannesburg to Perth will arrive at T3. Those connecting to another flight will clear customs and immigration at T3, whilst those making their final arrival in Perth will be bussed to T1 for customs.
This will last until 15 January 2023.
From 16 January until 25 March 2023, when the service will be suspended, flights will land at T1 where all passengers will be screened. Those with onward flights will then be taken to T3.
“After detailed discussion with the border agencies, we’ve found a way to operate our Johannesburg flights over the summer peak by using both T3 and T1,” said Andrew David, Qantas International CEO.
“This is about balancing the needs of our customers and operations with the important job our border agencies do in screening passengers and managing risk at the border.
“We’re pleased that all our Johannesburg flights will leave from T3, which means passengers flying in from other parts of Australia to meet this service will have a seamless experience, and eligible passengers can access our lounge. “
Whilst the Perth to Jakarta service will be axed completely, Qantas has responded by increasing Perth to Singapore services from “seven flights a week to 10 flights per week, all through T3.”