MIAMI – The financial troubles affecting SAA (SA) forced it to discontinue its Perth-Johannesburg service, leaving it open for Qantas Airways’ (QF) to step in.

Qantas Airways’ plans to fly a Perth (PER) to Johannesburg (JNB) route were abandoned in 2018 over a still ongoing disagreement with Perth Airport Authorities on which terminal QF should use.

The Airport wanted QF to use the T1 international terminal while QF wished to run the flights from the newly developed international wing of its T3-T4 domestic terminal, also used for Boeing 787 flights to London an Boeing 737 flights to Singapore.

By using the new terminal, QF would have skipped the necessity to tow the aircraft between terminals T1 and T3, a procedure deemed “logistically not OK” whenever an aircraft has to shift from an international to a domestic service.

South African Airways ZS-SXB Airbus A340-313. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

South African Airways: Sole Carrier on this Route


This decision left SA alone on a profitable route, mainly used by the large South African expat colony living in Perth, large to the point that the city is dubbed “Perthfontain.”

The financial troubles that are affecting SA made it discontinue the service. Just last December, South Africa’s Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) asked SA employees to accept less payment than that previously agreed. As things do not look any better for SA, it is an opportunity for QF to step in and take over the route.

Qantas VH-ZND Boeing 787-9 Yam Dreaming livery. Photo: Aidan Pullino/Airways

Qantas to Step in on a Profitable Route


The original plan was to start services in October 2021 but this has been revised with an earlier date in July and aircraft switched from a previously planned Airbus A330 to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner which is already ETOPS certified.

As Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said at a recent forum meeting “We have now got the ETOPS approval for the 787s to fly direct from Sydney to Jo’burg, in fact we’ve already done a few repatriation flights that way…if we can resolve our dispute with Perth Airport, we will start the Perth-Jo’burg service, which is on our list of new routes, and we think that will be very successful, we are very keen on South Africa (and) we think it is a good growth opportunity for us.”

On the subject of a restart of normal operations the carrier On January 5 stated that “Qantas has aligned the selling of our international services to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021.”

Qantas VH-OJU Boeing 747-438. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

Strict Health Protocols against COVID-19


Meanwhile, access to Qantas flights will be submitted to a valid vaccination against Covid-19. On this subject Alan Joyce stated that “yes we are going to change our terms and conditions to say to international travelers…we will ask people to have have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft.”

“We will need that domestically? We will need to see what happens with Covid-19. But certainly, for international visitors and people leaving the country we think that is a necessity.”


Featured image: Qantas VH-OQB Airbus A380-842. Photo: Phil Wilco/Airways