The coronavirus is making airlines come up with unusual flights from Australia
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
In another example of how the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing airlines to adapt in ways not seen before, Qantas will fly an extraordinary nonstop service from Australia to London aboard an Airbus A380. It’s only the second time that a scheduled flight will link Australia to Europe nonstop.
According to Airlineroute, the Australian airline is temporarily changing its flagship Sydney – Singapore – London Heathrow service to instead stop in Darwin, in northern Australia — both ways. The modified flight is scheduled to operate only until March 26 (March 27 from London), before Qantas halts all international flying for the moment. Darwin to Heathrow covers 8,620 miles, a very long haul but still within the range of the A380. For example, Qantas routinely flies the giant jet on its Dallas-Fort Worth to Sydney route, which is just as long.
This is also going to be the second-longest scheduled A380 flight, just behind the Auckland, New Zealand, to Dubai service on Emirates which covers 8,824 miles. That flight was still operating on Tuesday, ahead of Emirates suspending most of its flights this week due to the coronavirus pandemic and a lot of A380s being grounded.
The other scheduled flight linking Australia to Europe without stopping is also on Qantas, which began flying from Perth to London Heathrow in 2018. That 9,000-mile flight is covered by a Boeing 787-9.
The reason Qantas had to ditch the Singapore stop and refuel in Darwin instead is that Singapore has closed its airport to flyers in transit. Passengers aboard flight QF1 to London and QF2 to Sydney will not leave the plane in Darwin as the A380 gets refueled, according to Australian travel news site Executive Traveller.
The pandemic has produced another unusual effect when it comes to flights to Australia: the first-ever commercial flight there by Israeli flag carrier El Al.
The Jerusalem Post reported that flight LY88, carrying Israeli citizens evacuating from Australia, left Perth for Tel Aviv on Tuesday. The Israeli embassies in Australia and New Zealand, the paper said, had organized the evacuation of about 230 people who were on this flight, 80 of whom came from New Zealand. With 238 seats, the El Al 787-8 that operated the flight would have had enough room for everybody.
In a stark illustration of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting air traffic worldwide, there were only two El Al aircraft airborne anywhere in the world at 10:45 a.m. ET on Tuesday. One was Flight 88 from Perth, and the other Flight 324 from Paris to Tel Aviv, a Boeing 737, flight-tracking site Flightradar24 showed. Every one of the airline’s other 43 planes was on the ground.
Featured photo by Ryan Patterson / The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.