Lufthansa has completed its final repatriation flight to Christchurch in New Zealand after operating a 747-400 to facilitate coronavirus rescue efforts. The aircraft is now on its way back to Frankfurt via Bangkok. The aircraft is due to arrive back in Germany at around 21:40 UTC on Monday, 13th April.
Lufthansa flies 747 on last repatriation flight to Christchurch
After operating around 130 repatriation flights to bring nearly 30,000 Germans home, Lufthansa is now completing its final flight from Christchurch in New Zealand. The airline has been at the forefront of repatriation efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic. It says that it has operated repatriation flights to five continents over the course of its rescue mission. Some of those destinations also include places that Lufthansa never flies to.
Christchurch is one of those cities.
Earlier this morning, Lufthansa crew were met with praise and lots of publicity from Christchurch Airport as it left the airport for the final time. Today’s flight was the final repatriation service available for Germans stranded in Christchurch.
Auf Wiedersehen and farewell @lufthansa! We thank you, your crews, and the many essential workers across the airport and the city who helped get thousands of travellers home this week. ❤ @lufthansaNews pic.twitter.com/FE5dloMcLO
— Christchurch Airport (@CHC_Airport) April 12, 2020Advertisement:
For all those asking, the final @lufthansa repatriation flight is scheduled to depart at approximately 6pm tonight. Make sure you look up to the skies – if we’re lucky we might just see the 747 perform a flyover! pic.twitter.com/dl3KzEZUzl
— Christchurch Airport (@CHC_Airport) April 12, 2020
Lufthansa’s final repatriation flight between Christchurch and Germany started on 9th April. The German air carrier employed the services of one of its 747-400 aircraft. D-ABVP operated flight LH9880 which left Frankfurt on the 9th April at around 19:00 UTC. The 747, unable to complete the more than 20-hour flight in one go, stopped at Bangkok, arriving at 05:26 UTC the following day.
After a brief stop of around an hour and a half, the aircraft left Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) on 10th April at 07:13 UTC. It arrived at Christchurch International Airport (CHC) at 17:59 on 10th April, according to FlightRadar24.
Final 747 flight heads home from Christchurch
The aircraft is currently completing the return flight to Frankfurt as flight number LH355. Once again, the aircraft will travel to Bangkok for a technical stop before heading onto Frankfurt. The aircraft will arrive at 21:40 UTC tomorrow (Monday, 13th April).
On its website, Lufthansa says:
“We are doing everything we can to bring thousands of people back home who are stranded abroad due to local travel limitations. These past few days Lufthansa has already carried out numerous repatriation flights and we are planning many additional ones in cooperation with respective governments.”
Lufthansa is urging German citizens to book repatriation flights through its online portal (www.rueckholprogramm.de) and with communication with German diplomats in the countries where citizens are stranded. Passengers will not need to make advance payments, according to Lufthansa, however “those affected will have to bear a share of the costs stipulated in the consular law.”
Not the final repatriation flight
Whilst the emotional tributes to the Lufthansa crew at Christchurch Airport made it seem as though the airline would never return, that’s not entirely true. Lufthansa has plans to repatriate even more Germans from New Zealand.
At the time of writing, Lufthansa is currently operating flight LH357 from Auckland back to Frankfurt. The aircraft (D-AIMJ), an Airbus A380, will be stopping in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport before arriving into Frankfurt. Lufthansa also plans flight LH357 on 13th April to fly between Auckland and Frankfurt.
At this moment in time, it appears these are the only remaining repatriation flights from New Zealand. For certain, today’s flight will be the final repatriation flight for the 747-400.
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