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Qantas, Air France Mulling Nonstop Australia-France Flights

A nonstop service between Perth and Paris is being discussed, although bottleneck issues at Perth Airport mean it's unlikely it will launch until late this year at least

by Fergus Cole

February 7, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Qantas Airways

The national flag carriers of France and Australia—Air France and Qantas—have confirmed they are discussing the possibility of a direct service between the two countries.

The proposed new route would fly passengers between Paris and Perth Airport (PER) on the west coast of Australia. Perth is already regarded as Qantas’ western ‘international hub,’ thanks to its daily nonstop service to London Heathrow (LHR) and a seasonal direct connection with Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO), which will begin this summer.

When asked about Perth’s direct connections to Europe, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said, “Rome is definitely coming back, and it’s going to be there for the European summer between June and October, and we want to do more.”

Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Eledut / Unsplash

Joyce revealed that Qantas would “love to be able to do Paris” and that he’s “talking to Air France and other European airlines about how we could do that.”

While talks with Air France about a Paris-Perth route have been confirmed, Qantas is likely exploring even more options with other airlines and European destinations. For example, the carrier has previously flown to Germany via Singapore and has floated the idea of resuming that route, which ended in 2013.

“When we last did Paris, it was from Singapore to Paris three times a week. It was hard to make it economically work,” Joyce said. “Germany is still a big market, and it’s been hard for us in the past when we were flying through a hub, so the opportunity there is quite real.”

If the proposed route to Paris gets the go-ahead, it will be one of the world’s longest nonstop commercial airline routes. To complete the 16-hour mammoth journey, Qantas would likely use one of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, three of which it will be receiving in June this year.

Photo: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner Business Class Cabin. Courtesy of Qantas Airways

However, approval for the route will depend on the capacity that Perth Airport can provide. According to Joyce, Qantas is currently working with the airport to solve bottleneck issues at its international customs facilities, which has caused the carrier to suspend direct services to Jakarta (CGK) and Johannesburg (JNB).

“Unfortunately, we’re probably paused in terms of expansion until we can reach an agreement with (Perth) airport,” said Joyce. “We’re still in dialog with Perth airport (and) we’re hoping that we can reach an agreement because it will unlock a huge amount of growth.”

Joyce also suggested that Qantas was considering opening up new routes to Asia once it takes delivery of new aircraft.

“On top of Paris and potentially other destinations in Europe, we’re taking one new aircraft every month this year and that grows to one new aircraft every three weeks,” he said. “Some of these aircraft are narrow bodies but they can fly from Perth to a huge range of destinations in Asia. We’d love to be able to expand our operations from Perth to Asia as well.”