The Australian airline Qantas serves London as the only destination in Europe. The flight pair with the abbreviations QF1 and QF2 for the return flight to Sydney will be operated with an Airbus A380. This involves a stopover at Changi Airport in Singapore, where passengers from feeder flights to other Australian cities can also get on.
However, due to measures to combat the further spread of Corvid-19, the stopover in Singapore has also been prohibited for transit traffic since Tuesday. Restrictions in travel in the United Arab Emirates also no longer allowed refueling in Dubai with the Qantas partner Emirates. What to do?
Quick plan B from Qantas
The managers of the airlines with the kangaroo at the rear were creative when they needed it: the flight from Sydney to London has been operated via Darwin since Tuesday. The capital of the Australian federal territory Northern Territory is in the north of the fifth continent and is much worse than the cities of Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth in the global route network of large airlines.
But Darwin has a geographic advantage: The city is strategically located on the straight line Sydney-London. Therefore, the European flights from Qantas in the past few days took place in two stages: only the 3,200 km route from Sydney to Darwin with a flight time of four hours.
After a refueling stop of over an hour, the Airbus A380 traveled the 14,700 km route from Darwin non-stop to Heathrow in 16 hours and 22 minutes on Thursday, where the world’s largest passenger jet touched down at 12 noon.
These temporary flights even exceed the regular non-stop flight from Qantas on the route from Perth to London (QF5 / QF6) by around 200 kilometers.
On the return flights with the abbreviation QF2 there is also a fuel stop in Darwin without passengers being allowed to get on or off. However, these exceptional flights ended on March 26th. Qantas will discontinue all of its international flights by the end of the month by the end of May, according to a press release. More than 150 aircraft will remain on the ground, including all wide-bodied Airbus A380, Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 787-9 aircraft. Domestic flights are reduced by 60 percent.
It remains entirely open whether the “Sunrise” project will ever be realized. The Australians originally wanted to order a special version of the Airbus A350 for ultra long-haul flights, in order to be able to carry out the routes from Sydney not only to London, but also to other destinations in Europe and on the US east coast without a stopover. The first test flights had already been carried out with a Boeing 787-9 without paying passengers in December 2019. But with the Corona crisis, Qantas should put these plans on hold.