It’s not unusual to see Lufthansa aircraft landing or taking off at London’s Heathrow Airport. What would be unusual would be a planned Lufthansa flight from Houston to London Heathrow with an Airbus A330. However, this is exactly what happened today.
Over the past year, we’ve seen a variety of exciting routes born out of necessity. As far as Lufthansa is concerned, we saw its A380s and Boeing 747s in New Zealand as part of a mammoth repatriation effort last year. More recently, the airline has operated a couple of non-stop flights to the Falkland Islands.
Lufthansa flight 441 to London Heathrow?
This morning a Lufthansa Airbus A330 touched down at London Heathrow, having crossed the Atlantic Ocean. According to data from RadarBox.com, the flight had taken off from Houston (IAH) at 17:06 yesterday, around 56 minutes behind schedule.
The aircraft proceeded over the Atlantic as planned. However, rather than landing in Frankfurt, the aircraft descended to land at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) at 08:04 this morning. A Lufthansa spokesperson told Simple Flying that the diversion had been planned before the aircraft departed Houston. Most diversions like this would typically be enacted during the flight to respond to emergencies such as a sick passenger.
At short notice, a member of the crew fell ill. The airline still had enough crew members to complete the flight. However, it wouldn’t have been possible to rotate the crew around rest breaks adequately due to its length. As such, the team found their flight hours limited.
Adding a technical stop
Rather than canceling the flight, Lufthansa opted to operate it within the new limitations defined by crew rest. As a result, the aircraft couldn’t make it to Frankfurt but could fly to London. Lufthansa opted to reschedule the flight with a technical stop in the UK’s capital.
As Lufthansa has several flights to London each day, it didn’t make sense to have the existing crew rest there. Instead, a relief crew was waiting in London to carry the passengers onwards to Frankfurt, with the replacement flight departing Heathrow at 10:31. Passengers eventually landed in Frankfurt at 12:28 local time. As the original arrival time was scheduled for 08:15, passengers faced a delay of just over four hours.
Speaking to Simple Flying, a Lufthansa spokesperson commented,
“[We] rescheduled the flight with a technical stop in London-Heathrow to allow a new crew taking over this flight for the remaining leg to Frankfurt. This way Lufthansa could ensure the flight instead of cancelling it. However, we regret the delay and inconvenience caused by this extra stop.”
Were you surprised to see a Lufthansa Airbus A330 landing in London this morning? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!