Last month, it was announced that the Australian government had requested the help of Qantas to conduct a series of eight repatriation flights from London, Delhi, and Johannesburg. The first of the flights from London left for Darwin on October 22nd. Now, the second trip from the capital of the United Kingdom to Australia’s Northern Territory is currently in the air.
Up in the skies
Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners are conducting each of these special flights. Each widebody is transporting 175 passengers, and upon arrival, travelers must submit to a 14-day quarantine. This period of isolation will be spent at Howard Springs, just south of Darwin.
According to FlightAware, flight QF110 departed London Heathrow at 11:24 this morning. Over eight hours of the journey have already passed, and the plane, registration VH-ZNK, is due to arrive at Darwin’s RAAF base at 12:38. All times are local, and the total flight duration is estimated to be 15 hours and 44 minutes.
An important initiative
These flights are massively helpful amid the conditions that the global health crisis has brought on. Australia’s travel restrictions have severely impacted airline operations for most of the year. Subsequently, passengers have found it extremely difficult to travel to the country.
Amid the last Qantas passenger flight from London to Darwin at the end of last month, ABC News spoke with a couple to understand how difficult it has been this year. Passengers Kate and Glen Smith were booked on a flight back to Brisbane with their three young children in February. However, the flight was later canceled. After that, there was a series of struggles to return to Australia.
“We decided we needed to try pretty hard and so since June we’ve had five cancellations and three or four changes,” Kate Smith told ABC.
“It’s a bit surreal and just crossing the road [into the departure gate] just now I felt like ‘Wow, it’s actually going to happen, we’re going to get on a plane this time.”
The challenge continues
Altogether, there will undoubtedly be several passengers happy to be home and able to see their loved ones during this tough time. Australia’s long-haul travel industry doesn’t look to be returning to previous levels any time soon until there is progress in the international fight against the virus. Therefore, flights like this one from London will go a long way amid the present climate.
Simple Flying reached out to Qantas for comment on these repatriation flights. We will update the article with any further announcements from the airline.
What are your thoughts about Qantas’ repatriation flights to Australia? Have you flown on any of these services? Let us know what you think of the operations in the comment section.