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Hi Fly repatriation mission one of the longest A340-300 passenger flights ever flown

April 12, 2020
4 min read
Hi Fly repatriation mission one of the longest A340-300 passenger flights ever flown
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The COVID-19 outbreak continues to wreak havoc on the aviation industry, with airlines parking planes and cutting back or completely suspending their operations. Rapidly-changing flight schedules have made it difficult, if not impossible, for stranded travelers to return home, and coronavirus-related restrictions have only exacerbated the problem.

Governments have turned to repatriation flights to transport citizens back to their home country when commercial options are no longer available. On April 11, 2020, one of these flights, operated by a Hi Fly Airbus A340-300, made history as one of the longest-ever passenger flights on that aircraft model. Clocking in at 16 hours and 16 minutes, the chartered plane flew nonstop from Montevideo, Uruguay (MVD) to Melbourne, Australia (MEL) — a journey of 6,700 nautical miles (7,710 statute miles).

The 112 people on board had been stranded for over two weeks off the coast of Uruguay on the Aurora Expeditions cruise ship Greg Mortimer, after nearly 60% of its passengers tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

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As reported by Australia's SBS News, Aurora Expeditions chartered the Hi Fly aircraft to evacuate 96 Australians and 16 New Zealanders after Uruguay's government initially refused to let passengers disembark from the cruise ship. The Greg Mortimer had been anchored in Montevideo since March 27 after its 16-day Antarctic cruise was cut short due to the spread of coronavirus on the vessel.

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Hi Fly, a Portugal-based airline, operates a fleet of Airbus A320, A330, A340 and A380 aircraft on a wet-lease basis and has played a key role in repatriation and humanitarian flights in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. As part of the airline's emergency COVID response, all repatriation flights are stocked with masks, safety suits, aprons, gowns, disinfectants, gloves and biohazard bags. Upon arriving in Melbourne, passengers were transferred to a hotel to begin 14 days of quarantine.

Related: Wet leasing explained: Why some flights are operated by another airline's plane and crew

The specially-equipped aircraft that operated this repatriation flight, 9H-SUN, departed Montevideo at 4:44 a.m. GMT April 11, and arrived in Melbourne at 9 p.m. GMT. The flight passed over to the Antarctic border — and while transoceanic flights in the Southern Hemisphere are rare, the A340 is well suited to this type of operation. With four engines, it's not subject to ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) which other long-haul aircraft like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 must take into consideration. Under ETOPS, twin-engine aircraft must operate within a certain distance (in minutes) of a suitable diversion airport in the event of an engine failure.

(Image courtesy of FlightAware.)

The Hi Fly charter joins the list of unusual coronavirus-related repatriation flights, which includes the longest flight ever operated by Austrian Airlines (a 17-hour Boeing 777 flight from Vienna to Sydney) and El Al flights to Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Australia — the first time the airline has flown to any of these countries.

Stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 travel news by bookmarking TPG's coronavirus hub page.

Featured image by Getty Images

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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023