It’s not often you see jet contrails over southern Tasmania, but today a Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER passed high overhead en-route to Christchurch, New Zealand. It’s not often you see Qatar Airways in Christchurch either. In fact, this is the first time ever the Doha based airline has ventured down to New Zealand’s South Island.
A long flight south for the Boeing
The Qatar Airways jet, registered as A7-BAW and operating as flight QR7539, left Doha’s Hamad International Airport at 17:00 local time on Tuesday. The 14,783-kilometer route has seen the aircraft track over southern India and Sri Lanka before heading out over the Indian Ocean.
The plane crossed over the Western Australia Coast near Perth before leaving it somewhere over the Fitzgerald River National Park. It tracked deep out into the Great Australian Bight before crossing Tasmania, passing north of Hobart, and making the final lunge across the Tasman and into Christchurch.
A7-BAW landed at 17:19 (Christchurch time) on Wednesday. The odyssey took over fifteen hours. The flight is a charter to repatriate French citizens stranded in New Zealand.
The return flight, departing on Thursday, will travel to Paris via Perth and Doha. Christchurch-Perth-Doha-Paris; now there’s a flight I’d like to be on in different circumstances.
Today, the plane has landed in Christchurch with only the crew aboard. Tomorrow it will take on passengers in both Christchurch and Perth before flying to Doha and onto Paris.
The latest flight in a succession of interesting flights at Christchurch
The flight is one of many recent and interesting firsts for Christchurch Airport. Over the past weeks, Christchurch Airport has hosted a variety of airlines it doesn’t normally see. These include Austrian Airlines, SWISS, Condor Airlines, and Lufthansa.
Lufthansa garnered lots of attention earlier this week when it operated a swag of A380 and 747 flights into both Christchurch and Auckland Airports. The sheer number of Lufthansa flights raised eyebrows. But Christchurch Airport told Simple Flying that New Zealand, and in particular the South Island, hosts between 10,000 and 15,000 Germans who primarily work in tourism and hospitality. As those jobs evaporate, so does their means of support.
Surprisingly, given Qatar Airways has such a large footprint in Oceania, it doesn’t fly into Christchurch. It does fly into Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city on the North Island. That flight is the world’s second-longest nonstop flight. It has a flying time in excess of 17 hours. Today’s flight is marginally shorter.
Qatar Airways gets kudos for maintaining services into Oceania
Qatar Airways is gaining a lot of kudos in the region for maintaining and even ratcheting up schedules as most other airlines suspend services.
Qatar Airways continues to fly out of Auckland, Sydney and Perth. It has upgraded its services to Melbourne and added a temporary service to Brisbane. It is providing a critical service for people who have to travel.
After a rest, the crew will depart in A7-BAW with their passengers at 17:00 (Christchurch time) on Thursday as QR7540. It should touch down in Perth later tomorrow evening before beginning the long flight up to Doha and on to Paris.