Qantas Returns To Rome After An 18 Year Absence

Qantas is returning to Rome with a seasonal service to run from June 2022 through to October. The three times a week flights will see the Australian airline return to Italy after an 18-year absence. The flights will also mark Qantas’ return to continental Europe.

Qantas is returning to Rome in June after an 18-year absence. Photo: Qantas

From June 22, 2022, QF5 will push back from Sydney at 17:55 every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday for the four-hour and 55-minute hop over to Perth. After a 90 minute stopover, the flight leaves Perth at 22:20 for the longer sector up to Rome, landing there at 08:45 the following day after 16 and a half hours in the air.

The return flight, QF6, departs Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport at 10:50 every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. The 15 hour and 45 minute flight lands in Perth at 08:35 the following day. After 90 minutes on the ground, QF6 takes off for Sydney at 10:05, landing there four hours later at 16:05.

Qantas will deploy its long-haul workhorse, the Boeing 787-9, on the route. The aircraft carries 236 passengers including 166 passengers in economy class, 28 passengers in premium economy, and 42 passengers in business class.

Qantas will use its Boeing 787-9s on its flights to Rome. Photo: Qantas

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Qantas has a history with Rome, flying there continuously between 1948 and 2003. The cessation of flights to Rome broadly coincided with Qantas ending flights to several European destinations. Alitalia also once flew between Australia and Italy but ended regular flights in 1998.

Since then, travelers flying between Australia and Italy have had to connect in cities like Singapore or Dubai. This is despite significant numbers of travelers flying between the two countries.

“Italy is the largest market for us in continental Europe for people visiting family and friends from Australia,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce on Wednesday. He adds the Rome flights will also give passengers another option for reaching onward destinations across the Mediterranean and southern Europe through Qantas’ network of partners.

The Rome flights will complement Qantas’ Melbourne – Perth – London flights. These flights are slated to be running twice a day by mid-2022. It is also a win for Perth Airport after temporarily losing its stopover status to Darwin over the southern summer flying season.

However, by mid-2022, Perth Airport will once again become the only Australian city offering nonstop flights to both the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

Despite the promotional images, it’s not known whether Qantas will serve gelato on flights to Rome. Photo: Qantas

Perth Airport back on the radar

International numbers have fallen by 97% at Perth Airport since the onset of COVID-19. Earlier this week, the airport’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Brown was relatively downbeat when he spoke to The Australian Financial Review about the prospects of international airline activity significantly picking up there in the short to medium term.

“It’s not as simple as flicking the switch by opening the borders and thinking that it’s all going to come back to normal. We are up against the rest of the world,” he told the newspaper.

“You’ve got the whole world chasing airlines for their metal and there are fewer planes probably going back in the sky and they’re smaller and everyone wants a slice of them – it’s probably going to take us three to four years to see a recovery back to what we were pre-COVID.”

His comments to the newspaper also suggested he wasn’t expecting any new international routes anytime soon. That might have been a canny throw off or it might have been the truth. Either way, Wednesday morning’s announcement from Qantas is helping put Perth back on the map.