• Joe Breitfeller

Qantas Launches Flights to Merimbula; Adds Seven New Regional Routes

The airline has launched flights between Sydney and Merimbula and new Melbourne-Merimbula flights will begin in February 2021. Qantas has also announced a major regional network expansion with seven new routes across NSW, South Australia and Victoria.

QantasLink Bombardier Q300 (DeHavilland Canada Dash 8-300) - Courtesy Qantas

On Friday (December 18, 2020), Qantas announced the launch of new service between Sydney and Merimbula, with service between Melbourne and Merimbula set to start in February 2021. The Sydney-Merimbula route will operate four-times weekly and will be serviced with a 50-seat Bombardier Q300, providing 400 seats weekly. Due to high demand, the Sydney-Marimbula route will operate until at least October 2021. Qantas also announced a major regional network expansion with seven new routes across New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. Marking the inaugural flight from Sydney to Merimbula, Qantas Group’s Chief Financial Officer, Vanessa Hudson, said,

“As the national carrier, we have an important role to play in helping the industry recover from COVID-19. The best way to drive tourism is by making it even easier for Australians to explore incredible places in their own backyard, especially with international borders closed for some time to come. This is the first time Qantas has ever offered a direct flight to Merimbula which will mean more competitive fares on what is currently a monopoly route. These flights will bring more tourists to experience the beautiful beaches and unique wildlife of the Sapphire Coast and also give locals more choice in how they get to Sydney, Melbourne and beyond.

“Ongoing international border closures are fueling demand for domestic travel. We’ve seen a strong response from travellers since these flights went on sale and have extended the service to operate through to October next year. We’re continuing to look for opportunities to support new routes where there is demand. This additional flying will not only deliver a boost for local businesses but will also help more of our people get back to work.”

As previously mentioned, in addition to the new direct flights to Merimbula, Qantas further announced the addition of seven new routes, including two new destinations. The increased service means that Qantas will offering five more destinations across Australia than before the pandemic, an increase from 57 to 62. Most of the new routes will be operated with 50-seat Bombardier Q300s, adding over 320,000 seats to the regional destinations annually. The new routes and additional frequencies are outlined below. In Friday’s route announcement, QantasLink’s CEO, John Gissing, said,

“As the national carrier, we have an important role to play in driving tourism and supporting the industry’s recovery. Before COVID, more than 11 million Australians travelled overseas each year, so these flights will help convert some of these international trips into domestic holidays instead. We know there is significant pent up demand for travel. These new flights will help more Australians explore some of the incredible places in their own backyard and drive tourism, which is so vital to the local economies of regional areas. We’ll be promoting these new flights to millions of our frequent flyers across the country in the lead up to the flights commencing next year. We’re also pleased to be able to offer locals more choice and competitive fares on these routes, most of which have been monopolies for years.

“All our aircraft carry fixed costs, regardless of whether they’re grounded or not. We’d rather get as many aircraft back in the air as we can because it’s better for our business, our customers and gets more of our people back to work.”

Qantas Launches Seven New Routes and Expanded Frequencies - Courtesy Qantas

Including the seven new routes announced today, since domestic border restrictions began to ease in July, Qantas has launched 20 new routes. The carrier has been progressively “waking up” their domestic and regional aircraft to support the new flying and the company hopes to return most of their regional fleet to service by early 2021. The airline continues to offer complimentary food & beverage service and baggage with every seat and has opened 30 out of 35 regional and domestic lounges across their network.

Source: Qantas

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