Qantas’ longest repatriation flight flies over Antarctica: Buenos Aires to Darwin

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The longest road Qantas has ever traveled has taken a detour along the coast of Antarctica. Photo / Supplied, Flight Radar 24

On Wednesday evening, a Qantas Dreamliner from Buenos Aires landed in Darwin, making the longest trade route in the airline’s 100-year history.

The gigantic flight lasted almost 18 hours and flew over the coast of Antarctica.

The notable route was a repatriation flight for Australian citizens, forming the return journey of a charter flight carrying the Argentina rugby team home after the rugby championship in Queensland.

QF14 took 17 hours and 26 minutes to cover the 15,020 km course, even after tailwinds reduced the trip by 5 minutes.

It is by far the longest route ever served by a Qantas vessel, surpassing the previous London to Perth record of an additional 200 km.

From the cockpit: QF14 flies over the Antarctic Peninsula.  Photo / Supplied
From the cockpit: QF14 flies over the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo / Supplied

Airline staff have spent the last month planning routes to ensure wind conditions over the South Sea and Pacific are aligned to get passengers home.

“Qantas has always risen to the challenge, especially when it comes to long-haul travel,” said Captain Alex Passerini, who thanked the flight planning team.

Qantas has been making scenic flights over Antarctica from Melbourne and Sydney since the early 1970s, a price for which passengers pay more than $ 2,600. However, it was a managed return flight for Australian citizens who had waited over a year to return.

“There were some really spectacular views as we traveled through Antarctica which was an added bonus for our passengers who were very happy to come home,” said Captain Passerini.

Departure from Buenos Aires on the historic QF14.  Photo / Supplied, Qantas
Departure from Buenos Aires on the historic QF14. Photo / Supplied, Qantas

Codenamed “Great Barrier Reef”, the subantarctic flight path surprised some aircraft observers.

This first caught the attention of flight followers as the plane appeared to make a detour over the ice, causing them to wonder what the flight was doing.

The flight crew tweeted an update on their progress with “Greetings from Antarctica”.

Flying over the poles is nothing new. The longest trade route in the world was Singapore Airlines’ 15,348 km direct New York route, connecting by the shortest route over the North Pole. However, unlike north of the Arctic Circle, planes over Antarctica have few alternate airports to divert to.

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners were originally intended for Project Sunrise, Qantas’ plan for very long-haul commercial routes between London, Sydney and New York. After two test flights of 17,000 km, the program was suspended by the pandemic.



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