The best way from Buenos Aires to Darwin is apparently via south Australia. Qantas flight QF14 “approached Australia from the south on Wednesday night, crossing the Great Australian Bight to then fly over the Red Centre to Darwin.” Traveller.com reports:
“The longest commercial flight in Qantas’ history landed in Darwin on Wednesday night after a route that took it from Buenos Aires over the coast of Antarctica on a near-18 hour long haul.
The repatriation flight was the return leg of a charter flight that carried Argentina’s rugby team home from Brisbane to Buenos Aires on Sunday after the 2021 Rugby Championship. The Department of Foreign Affairs were notified about the flight and worked with Qantas to use the returning plane to bring home Australians.
Flight QF14 took off from Buenos Aires at 12.44pm local time, 19 minutes behind schedule, but landed in Darwin five minutes early after a journey that took 17 hours, 25 minutes.”
With a view of Antarctica:
Captain Alex Passerini, Qantas’s chief technical pilot, said, “We’ll end up flying over the continent at around 73 or 74 south latitude, depending on the winds,” he said. “Hopefully the cloud cover will be kind to us and we can give our passengers a view.”
By comparison, in the north, 74 degrees north latitude crosses Novaya Zemlya in Siberia, here from Wikipedia:
Here’s the entire flight between Westray and Papa Westray, Orkney islands. It’s 1.7 miles, shorter than Heathrow runways.
The Covid AVDaily newsletter reacts to the UK’s “green list” of countries approved for travel without the requirement for travelers to quarantine on their return. They’re unimpressed.
They note that “it includes a number of remote islands such as South Georgia, as well as countries that are right now not welcoming tourists (e.g. Australia, New Zealand and Singapore).”
Then there is talk of passengers facing immigration queues of up to seven hours. The newsletter opines that “Governments like the UK are sending signals that they’d rather people didn’t travel. One of the most revealing parts of Friday’s announcement was when … Paul Lincoln from the UK Border Force (talked) about significant border delays. Lincoln said that each officer would be taking up to ten minutes to check every passenger … listening to him talk the message seemed to be ‘these are the consequences of you choosing to travel.’
Nobody needs that. So we’ve routed ourselves through Amsterdam Schiphol for our July visit to Finland.
Seven of the 10 most-active international city pairs feature US links, suggesting one of the world’s most-advanced inoculation programs is uncorking demand that’s been building for a year.
And OAG forecasts that the U.S. domestic market “should return to almost normal levels by July.”
Forbes, also using OAG’s data, isn’t so sure.
“Granted, the odds of surviving a 6-mile plummet are extraordinarily slim, but at this point you’ve got nothing to lose by understanding your situation.”
If you’re good with that premise, here is How to Fall 35,000 feet (and Survive).
“Near bankrupt low-cost airline Norwegian has told over a thousand laid-off employees that it can’t afford to pay them their final wages or other redundancy payments but that it will let them keep their uniforms and branded cabin bags as a “keepsake” of their time with the airline.”
From Paddle Your Own Kanoo.
The government has grounded Montenegro Airlines, whose employees hadn’t been paid since September.
Things ended poetically: “[T]he pilots on the company’s last flight to Belgrade on Friday were given permission by air controllers to make a heart-shape course in the skies over the picturesque mountainous Adriatic state.”
In order to hurry along the resumption of international air travel the trade group International Air Transport Association (IATA) plans to initiate its Travel Pass in the first quarter of 2021 which, of course, is now only a couple of weeks away. Travel Pass will be “A global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements,” and will include “accurate information on passengers’ COVID-19 health status.” Essentially, it will tell passengers what’s required of them to reach their destination, and tell airlines whether passengers have been tested and/or vaccinated. IATA says it will soon be downloadable for iOS and Android phones. Here is a pdf fact sheet.
It’s one sign that things are stirring in the world of air travel. Another: Airlines warned about safety of COVID-19-grounded planes leaving storage.
The aviation consultancy Simpliflying reaches some fairly downbeat conclusions about the swift resumption of tourism in 2021. It thinks:
1 – It’s likely that there will be some form of air travel recovery from April. Shorter haul leisure routes (e.g from Northern / Western Europe to the Mediterranean) will recover first, especially those catering to older leisure travellers, who are higher in the vaccination queue.
2 – Widespread vaccinations of the adult population in Europe and North America however, won’t occur until after April, and we can’t expect a mass of adults to be vaccinated until the Summer.
3 – In Western Countries, vaccination schedules will not be uniform. In other countries, the roll-out may take until 2022 or 2023. This means testing is here to stay, and will work alongside vaccination certificates and biosafety measures.
4 – Reopening borders for air travel will not be a priority for Governments. Even the introduction of vaccines may not be enough.
You can download the entire report here.
El Al is trying it. The article says they’re selling about a hundred meals a day.