Actually, that’s not strictly true. New Zealand is about 3 hours away from Sydney. Papua New Guinea is not far off the northern tip of Queensland. And Darwin is closer to Asia than much of Australia’s South. And that latter fact is why Jetstar is setting up a base in Darwin for shorthaul flights to Asian destinations.
For those of us in the south almost all international flights other than to New Zealand and the Pacific islands involve big “widebody” aircraft ranging from Airbus’ A330 to Boeing’s 747. Internally we usually catch the much smaller “narrowbodies”: Boeing’s 737 and Airbus’ A320. Jetstar’s plan is that we could now fly the narrowbodies all the way overseas from Darwin and Perth to destinations that could not support a larger aircraft’s worth of passengers.
Jetstar Asia already to fly to quite a few destinations in Asia from their Singapore hub, but Singapore is too far from southern Australia. Darwin, however, is within the range of smaller aircraft flying from all cities in Australia so you could have quite a large catchment to support flights onwards to Asia (or inwards, as the case may be). Hopefully this means cheaper flights to our Asian neighbours.
There is little argument that widebody flights tend to be more comfortable than their smaller counterparts, however I think there is something almost romantic about a transit stop in one of Australia’s tropical northern cities, especially late at night.
I admit that it’s difficult for me to back up that above statement. But I did enjoy the stopovers in Cairns on our way between Sydney and Japan (see the photo), as well as our time in Bangkok’s Don Muang airport on our honeymoon flight to Europe. Maybe it’s the contrast between the cold and dry aircraft cabin air with the warmth and humidity of the tropics.
And I’ve never visited Darwin before, so this could be a great excuse!