Qantas is today adding Merimbula to its map, operating direct flights to Sydney for the first time to meet strong demand for domestic travel.
The flights begin as the airline also today announces a major expansion to its regional network, with seven new routes across New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria, including direct flights from Merimbula to Melbourne which will operate four days per week from February.
The Merimbula-Sydney flights will operate four days per week with the airline’s 50-seat turboprop Q300 aircraft, adding more than 400 seats on the route each week.
In response to strong demand since the Sydney-Merimbula route went on sale in October, Qantas has today confirmed it will extend the service beyond the initial 14-week period, with flights now due to operate until at least October 2021.
Speaking from Merimbula to mark the inaugural flights, Qantas Group Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Hudson said the flights reinforced the airline’s commitment to tourism.
“As the national carrier, we have an important role to play in helping the industry recover from COVID-19,” said Ms Hudson.
“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 fuelling 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.”
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Qantas has introduced a number of initiatives to encourage customers to book with greater flexibility, as well as to improve safety and peace-of-mind when travelling domestically through its Fly Well program.