AirAsia Philippines set a ‘personal best’ for its longest flight last week as part of a mission to repatriate 125 Filipino sea crew from India. The Airbus A320’s mission had a total flight time of 14 hours, flying round-trip from Manila (Philippines) to Gujarat (India). There was the inclusion of a single technical stop on the way back.
A record-making 14-hour flight
According to the airline, the flight from Gujarat, India, to Manila in the Philippines was coordinated by five local “manning agencies” whose sailors had been stranded in the port city of Bhavnagar for weeks.
While the flight and its time in the air aren’t making headlines around the world, it is still a big deal for AirAsia Philippines, who’s aircraft would not usually travel such a long distance.
On July 18th, the chartered flight departed Manila at 07:05 (local time). Upon arriving at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Gujarat, India, it was refueled and loaded up with Philippine nationals eager to go home.
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The aircraft departed on July 19th at 09:00 (local time) as flight Z2 115, arriving in Manila on the same day at 21:28 (local time).
Given the length of the journey, the aircraft had a scheduled technical stop to refuel at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport just outside Kolkata, India.
A proud achievement for AirAsia
As part of a statement to the media, this is what the airline’s CEO had to say about the mission:
“We are pleased to have not only mounted the longest flight ever for AirAsia Philippines but, at the same time, helped repatriate Filipinos overseas. We know how much they have longed to come home and we are honored to be part of their safe return to the Philippines.” -AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricky Isla
As mentioned above, the mission was indeed a team effort. The particular recovery flight was facilitated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Regent Travel Corporation and also required input from the respective staffing agencies affiliated with the sailors.
This new record for AirAsia Philippines comes just over a month after the airline’s previous record was set. The old record was set on a special recovery flight between Manila and Yangon (Myanmar) on June 12th, with a duration of eight hours. The A320 carried 152 Myanmar nationals from Manila.
Desperate times call for desperate measures
These long flights are only taking place because of the interesting times we are all living through amid the global health crisis. Borders are shut and airlines have drastically reduced services.
In fact, AirAsia Philippines has already organized 400 special recovery and cargo flights since March 16th, 2020, flying over 25,000 passengers and over 600,000 kilograms of cargo to nearly 30 domestic and international destinations.
Without these special cargo and repatriation operations, AirAsia Philippines’ services would be much shorter: The average duration of AirAsia Philippines commercial international one-way flights is three hours.
The airline had recently made news for its notable new uniforms, which integrated design and PPE.
What do you think of AirAsia Philippines’ accomplishment? Worth celebrating, or nothing to get too excited about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.