DIRECT Perth to London flights will set off in 2018, after Perth Airport and Qantas sealed a deal following months of tense negotiations.
The agreement was reached after the State Government offered to chip in $14 million of taxpayer funds to upgrade the airport’s domestic terminal.
Perth Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said Terminal 3 would be upgraded to handle about 150,000 passengers a year who were predicted to use the non-stop, 17.5 hour service to London aboard Qantas’ new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner Aircraft.
“The agreement ensures that the overall customer experience at Perth Airport is not diminished, particularly for the 4.3 million passengers processed every year through the existing Terminal 1 (T1) International,” he said.
As part of the deal, Qantas has made an agreement in principle to shift all of its domestic and international services to a new terminal – to be built at Airport Central – by 2025.
Tourism WA has calculated the direct flight deal could inject between $9 and $36 million a year into the local economy.
Premier and Tourism Minister Colin Barnett said the tourism benefits to the State were enormous.
“The service will create opportunities for people to stop over in Perth for a day or two if en route to or from another Australian destination,” he said.
“With Perth’s large UK expat population, direct flights are anticipated to drive increased visitation from visiting friends and relatives.”
The Premier said a Qantas hub was expected to create new jobs at the national carrier in Perth and within businesses providing support services to hub operations.
Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall said the London-Perth direct service would put Perth on the world map.
“Perth will grab the world’s attention as the gateway to Australia from Europe and the east coast of the United States,” he said.
Mr Hall said the tourism industry had security concerns and wanted the Federal Government to fund adequate Border Force, customs, quarantine and immigration officers at Terminal 3.
“We don’t want long queues at Perth International Airport or the Qantas terminal due to the Federal Government trying to pocket the departure tax without paying for adequate border protection staff,” he said.
“The Federal Government has just increased the tax on international return flights to $60 per passenger and is now collecting about $130 million each year through Perth.”
“The airport, Qantas and State Government are all investing in the new service. It’s not good enough for the Federal Government to just collect more tax off the flight without investing in the service as well.”