Qantas chief Alan Joyce has talked up Western Australia’s tourism potential as the reopened State prepares to welcome new direct overseas flights.
The national carrier will resume flights between Perth and Johannesburg from November 1, reconnecting WA with South Africa for the first time since 2020.
Direct flights between Perth and Jakarta will also be launched from November 30.
Premier Mark McGowan on Friday confirmed the government would provide “fairly modest” subsidies for both routes but would not reveal specific figures.
He will travel to Rome on Saturday aboard one of the first direct Qantas flights between Perth and the Italian capital.
The Rome service is the first non-stop commercial route between Australia and continental Europe.
Direct flights between Perth and London also recently resumed and the government is hopeful of adding routes to India, China and Vietnam in coming years.
“We went through two and a half years with essentially no international travel whatsoever,” Mr McGowan told reporters.
“Now that we’re back, we’ve got to get it back properly. And we’ve got to get it back to places that we haven’t had services to before.”
Mr Joyce, who joined the Premier in Perth for the announcement, said demand for the Perth to Rome route was performing well above expectations.
The demand for flights between Perth and London has exceeded pre-COVID levels, giving Qantas confidence to add new direct routes.
Mr Joyce notably compared WA to North Korea earlier this year when the first postponed the reopening of the state’s borders.
But the pair have put aside their differences, dining together this week with other cabinet ministers.
“Alan and I have kissed and made up. The hatchet is so far buried we can’t even find it,” Mr McGowan quipped.
“We did actually have a discussion about North Korea. I was saying Alan’s glasses and hairstyle is very similar to Kim Jong-un.”
Mr Joyce chimed in: “I thought we were going to be eating at a Korean restaurant as well.”
While Qantas plans to introduce direct flights to London from Sydney and Melbourne, Mr Joyce said the carrier was committed to maintaining the Perth to London route.
“What has happened with the economy here … is the envy of the world and that is a great foundation for us to build on,” he said.