QantasLink Ramps Up Its Newcastle Williamtown Operations

After years of benign neglect, Qantas is beginning to show Newcastle some love. Newcastle is the second-largest city in New South Wales but was never really on Qantas’ radar. However, that’s changing, with QantasLink routes into Newcastle going from one to three in less than a year.

QantasLink will start flying an E190 jet between Newcastle Williamtown & Adelaide in March. Photo: Lila Design

Newcastle’s Williamtown Airport is 113 miles (182 kilometers) north of Sydney. The shared military and civil airport serves the city and the broader Hunter Valley region. Four airlines presently fly in – QantasLink, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, and FlyPelican.

Other than QantasLink Dash 8-400 services to and from Brisbane, Qantas has long ignored Newcastle, giving its regular flyers the option of flying Jetstar or driving down to Sydney Airport.

Given some 660,000 people live within one hours’ drive of Williamtown Airport and its total catchment area contains around 1.1 million people, Qantas’ disinterest in Newcastle was always slightly odd.

That changed last year. With international flights largely grounded, Qantas had to dig up flying opportunities within Australia, and started paying Williamtown Airport some long-overdue attention.

For years, QantasLink’s only presence at Williamtown was a Dash 8 service to Brisbane. Photo: Qantas

After a decade-long absence, QantasLink resumed flying between Melbourne and Williamtown earlier this year using Boeing 717-200 aircraft. With up to double daily services, QantasLink took on Virgin Australia and Jetstar on this route.

Lockdowns and border closures between Victoria and New South Wales soon saw flights on this route paused for several months. However, QantasLink is resuming services between Melbourne and Williamtown later this week.

From next March, QantasLink is adding a third route into Newcastle Williamtown. From March 28, 2022, QantasLink Embraer E190 jets will start flying three times a week between Williamtown and Adelaide.

“The Newcastle-Adelaide route is one of the most in-demand and searched for by our customers. We’re incredibly excited that we’re able to deliver another popular service for the region – our sixth new route in 2021,” said Newcastle Williamtown Airport CEO Peter Cock.

A QantasLink E190 will jet between Williamtown and Adelaide three times a week from late March. Photo: Qantas

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A second attempt at making NTL-ADL work

In 2018, Williamtown-based FlyPelican began operating a short-lived service between Williamtown and Adelaide. FlyPelican used a Fokker jet leased from Alliance Airlines. But by early 2019, FlyPelican axed the flights, saying they weren’t viable.

But QantasLink (coincidentally also sending a leased Alliance Airlines jet into Williamtown) thinks they can make a go of the route.

“We know that many of our customers are flying between Adelaide and Newcastle via Sydney, and we’re delighted that we’re able to offer this direct service for the first time,” said QantasLink CEO John Gissing.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from March 28, 2022, QF1948 will push back from Adelaide at 13:25 and head east, landing at Newcastle Williamtown at 16:00. It will take just over two hours to cover the 778 miles (1,253 kilometers).

Flights to Adelaide will operate on the same days. QF1949 will depart Williamtown at 16:45 and touch down in Adelaide at 18:25.

 “Newcastle is one of our largest unserved markets, and we’re excited that Qantas has recognized the opportunities that a service between our two cities offers,” said Adelaide Airport’s Mark Young.

“Newcastle is Australia’s second-largest regional city with many similarities to Adelaide, including its defense focus and proximity to the Hunter Valley wine region. It also provides a great alternative to traveling via Sydney for passengers wanting to travel to and from the Central Coast, Hunter, and North Coast regions.”

Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary airline, Jetstar, has a longstanding presence and maintenance base at Williamtown. In further Newcastle Williamtown news, Jetstar recently announced it is resuming nonstop flights between Williamtown and Cairns in mid-December.