Unprecedented: Lufthansa is flying 5 A380s and 5 747s to New Zealand
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Travelers who have found themselves stuck outside of their home countries are frantically trying to get back. airlines are stepping up and flying special repatriation flights on routes to destinations that they might never have been to before.
On March 26, German giant Lufthansa flew a Boeing 747 to Auckland (AKL) for the first time ever. Now, the German Federal Foreign Office has arranged with Lufthansa to send an additional 10 flights to New Zealand to bring back German tourists. Five of the repatriation flights will be operated by Boeing 747s, while the other five flights will be operated by the airline’s recently parked A380 fleet.
The first of the 10 flights, which are all operating via Bangkok (BKK), is due to land back in Frankfurt (FRA) on Tuesday evening. The 747 registered D-ABVP, operating as LH355, already made its way from Christchurch (CHC) and is currently in Bangkok before departing on its final leg, scheduled to arrive in Frankfurt at 11:30 p.m local time Tuesday.
Hot on its heels is A380 D-AIMC, which is currently en route from Auckland to Bangkok as LH357 and scheduled to arrive in Frankfurt an hour later.
The total of five A380s, each with 509 seats, and five 747s with 371 seats each means that up to 4,400 Germans could be brought home from New Zealand.
The cabin crew operating the flights volunteered to do so. A total of 210 crew were selected to operate the special repatriation flights. Crews will change in Bangkok in order to abide by crew rest periods.
The 10 superjumbo flights to New Zealand are just one part of Lufthansa’s huge repatriation efforts. So far, the airline said that it has recovered more than 70,000 travellers from 77 airports on five continents since mid-March. The tally so far is 360 flights with 55 more still to be flown.
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