Australian carrier Qantas is to offer a special charter flight between Darwin and Hong Kong in January which could lead to the introduction of regular air services between the Northern Territory and China. The airline will offer a one-off service on January 21, 2012 which will return one week later on January 28, 2012 and which will be flown using a two-class Boeing 737-800 with a 12-seat Business Class cabin. Additional charters are expected to be added during the year, subject to the success of this inaugural service.
The primary purpose of the charter services is to build the market for scheduled operations to China in the future. As one of Australia’s fastest growing tourist markets, the Northern Territory Government has recently announced a China Discussion Paper, which highlights aviation access as a key consideration. The charter program is being managed by aviation consultancy Aspirion and has been structured to allow Australian residents to either book a return week-long trip to Hong Kong, or to travel separately on each of the sectors one way.
“This is a great initiative and we fully support it,” said Jim Parashos, Northern Territory Airports Director Airline and Airport Services. “We believe the charter program is a key step in building the market in order to sustain year round scheduled services from China.”