Lufthansa’s newest Airbus A350 has departed Frankfurt Airport on the carrier’s second trip to the Falkland Islands. The charter trip is being operated on behalf of the Alfred Wegener Institute as it looks to change the crew on the Polarstern vessel.
The pandemic has necessitated a whole host of weird and wonderful flights, and Lufthansa has been no exception. Almost a year ago, the airline’s A380s and Boeing 747s were seen in New Zealand as part of mammoth repatriation of German citizens. Now the airline is operating its second Airbus A350 flight to the Falkland Islands in order to assist German Antarctic researchers.
A long flight ahead
D-AIXQ is Lufthansa’s newest Airbus A350. It was delivered to the German flag carrier from Airbus’ Toulouse plant on October 30th, 2020. The aircraft operated five return trips to Seoul in November. Since November 30th, the aircraft didn’t perform any revenue flights until Lufthansa began using it once more in mid-March. Before today it operated four round trips to the US from Munich.
However, when the aircraft departed from Munich this afternoon, it wasn’t heading stateside. Instead, it completed an hour-long hop north to Hamburg. Here the aircraft was refueled and loaded with crew and 40 members of ship crew heading to relieve the current team on the Polarstern research vessel.
Lufthansa has operated this flight once before back at the start of February. The last time the flight operated, it clocked in at 15 hours and 36 minutes, making it the longest that the airline has ever operated.
It’s unclear how this flight will clock in in comparison. According to a flight plan released by Lufthansa, it looks as though the plane will take a slightly shorter route. It has been scheduled to take 15 hours and 25 minutes. According to data from RadarBox.com, the aircraft took to the skies at 22:00 German local time after a rejected takeoff.
Not coming straight back
The flight won’t boomerang straight back to Germany. To keep weights down, only one crew will be on the flight. This means that they will need to take rest time in quarantine in the Falklands. The aircraft will then depart the Falkland Islands on Friday, arriving back in Germany on Saturday.
The crew will have been quarantining before the flight as the Falkland Islands currently has a zero COVID rate. As a result, the crew will have completed a duty period of around 20 days when arriving back in Munich. When the aircraft returns to Germany, it should be carrying the team that flew out to the Polarstern in early February.
What are your thoughts on this second attempt at Lufthansa’s longest-ever flight? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!