Malaysia Airlines has joined the long list of airlines running repatriation flights to and from Australia for stranded passengers. A Malaysia Airlines A330-300 pushed back from Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport on Sunday evening for the eight and a half hour overnight flight up to Kuala Lumpur.
The flight, operating as MH148, carried a planeload of Malaysian nationals. The airline typically maintains a busy schedule of flights to Melbourne and other Australian ports. But now, Malaysia Airlines is operating a dramatically scaled back timetable, with just seven flights departing Melbourne this month.
Malaysia Airlines’ service to Melbourne
That’s left a lot of Malaysians stranded in cities such as Melbourne, which hosts a large number of Malaysian students. With many losing their parttime jobs, not being eligible for social security payments, and on-campus lessons suspended, large numbers of these students had been keen to get home.
“We are happy to be standing on the front lines and playing a key role in uniting our Malaysian family across the world,” Group chief executive officer Captain Izham Ismail told The Malay Mail.
On Sunday evening, 9M-MTA operated flight MH148. It departed Melbourne at 21:55 local time and arrived in Kuala Lumpur at 04:18 local time on Monday, May 18.
Malaysia Airlines has been busy flying repatriation flights in and out of Melbourne in the last week, having operated flights each evening since May 13. Flights are also scheduled to depart this Monday and Tuesday evening. The schedule will then become more irregular, with the next departure on May 25.
International flights to Melbourne
After two months of minimal international flights into Melbourne, there are signs of an uptick in flights. Here is what we’re seeing on the schedule today:
- Two Malaysia Airlines departures to Kuala Lumpur
- One China Southern flight to Guangzhou
- A China Eastern flight to Shanghai
- An Air New Zealand flight to Auckland
- And a Qatar Airways flight to Doha
Both Etihad and Emirates are also resuming flying from Melbourne while local carrier Qantas is offering a minimal international schedule out of Melbourne. There are departures to London on May 20, 22, 27, and 29.
There are also departures to Los Angeles on May 23 and 30. The second local airline, Virgin Australia, is not currently offering any international flights out of Melbourne.
Exotic cities and unusual tails at Australian airports
The last two months have seen some unusual airlines land at Melbourne and other Australian airports. El Al made a splash locally, flying into Melbourne in early April.
Austrian Airlines has operated a nonstop flight between Vienna and Sydney. KLM flew into Sydney from Amsterdam. LOT Polish Airlines has operated flights between Sydney and Warsaw.
Elsewhere, sleepy Adelaide has seen Lion Air flights come in from New Delhi, Darwin has hosted non-stop flights to London, and Nepal Airlines jetted into Brisbane from Kathmandu.
And while the bush capital Canberra usually sees plenty of Qantas flights, it never sees Qantas international flights and snappy looking 787-9 Dreamliners. But late last week, a Qantas Dreamliner touched down in Canberra direct from New Delhi. The flight was one of four flights coming in from India over the past week.
While flight pickings remain slim, Malaysia Airlines and many of its fellow airlines are keeping minimal services going – enough to get you where you need to go. Many people believe this is how things are going to be for some time as most borders remain closed to non-citizens. With this in mind, it could be a long wait until we see the usual Malaysia Airlines double dailies out of Melbourne again.