British Airways has repatriated almost 40,000 British citizens since it started its special flights in late March. The airline’s flight schedule has been minimal since the pandemic decimated travel demand. However, the British flag carrier operated several unique routes to ensure that people could still return to the UK if necessary.
In late March, the demand for global travel collapsed. This was in part due to governments implementing travel bans and entry bans, and partly due to dear over the virus. British Airways canceled its first routes due to the pandemic back in January, but it is now operating a fraction of scheduled flights.
40,000 British citizens repatriated
British Airways began to repatriate British citizens as part of the government’s official repatriation effort that started on March 29th, just over three months ago. The first flight saw the airline heading to Peru. This flight collected around 300 British citizens.
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Of course, before this, the airline had operated several private charter repatriation flights. This included flying three Boeing 777s to Havana to repatriate hundreds of Brits who were stranded on a Fred Olsen cruise ship that had been turned away from numerous ports.
As part of the repatriation effort, British Airways flew to some destinations that are not in its usual portfolio. This saw flights head to the likes of Guyana, Cuba, Tanzania, and Bangladesh.
In total, British Airways has operated 134 repatriation flights. These flights have carried almost 40,000 passengers. The flights operated by the British flag carrier operated to 33 different cities spread across 21 different countries. Even the Airbus A380 got involved in the effort! It’s not quite as impressive as the Lufthansa Group’s mammoth repatriation effort but still deserves applause.
Not just repatriating citizens
British Airways has not just been using its aircraft to ferry around citizens during its downtime. The airline has also been using some of its Boeing 777s to transport vital freight around the world. Indeed, two of the airline’s Boeing 777s were converted to remove their seats. This has given British Airways 100 meters squared of additional space onboard the aircraft in question.
Speaking of the effort, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, Alex Cruz, said,
“Since our first repatriation flight from Peru with nearly three hundred customers at the beginning of this global pandemic, we have flown to countries that we have never operated to before, bringing tens of thousands of citizens home to their loved ones. I would like to extend my personal thanks to our pilots, crew, and engineers at British Airways who have helped make these flights possible and ensure our frontline workers have the supplies they need.”
The airline is currently planning to get its international operation back underway. However, the UK is yet to end its controversial 14-day quarantine. This is now widely thought to change next Monday. However, tomorrow a group of airlines, including British Airways, Ryanair, and easyJet, will take the UK’s government to the High Court over the issue.
Did you fly on a British Airways repatriation flight? Let us know how you found it in the comments!