Hi Fly repatriation mission one of the longest A340-300 passenger flights ever flown
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.
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.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
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.
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.
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.
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 photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees