Lufthansa’s longest flight ever has landed in the Falkland Islands. The aircraft departed Hamburg at 21:23 on Sunday, landing at Mount Pleasant Complex at 09:00. The flight, which is also the longest flight to have departed Hamburg, clocked in at 15 hours and 36 minutes.
The Airbus A350 is known for its long flights. It is the aircraft employed by Singapore Airlines for the world’s longest commercial flight, New York/Singapore, scheduled at 18-hours and 40-minutes. Recently the German Air Force’s A350 completed the longest flight of the type to date, clocking in at 19 hours and 13 minutes from Cologne to Canberra.
On Sunday afternoon, a Lufthansa Airbus A350-900 departed Frankfurt bound for Hamburg. While it’s unusual for Lufthansa to fly an A350 to Hamburg, the aircraft’s next leg would be even more impressive. At 21:23, seven minutes ahead of schedule, D-AIXP departed from Hamburg with 16 members of crew and 92 passengers.
The aircraft’s destination was not one usually served by the German flag carrier either. Having departed Hamburg, the aircraft set course for the Falkland Islands, off the coast of Argentina. The 92 passengers onboard the flight are due to join the Polarstern research vessel on an Antarctic expedition. Given the current travel restrictions in place around the world, this unique flight was a necessary service.
The Falklands has mostly escaped the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 41 cases having been registered to date. To ensure that Lufthansa didn’t bring the virus to the Islands, everybody onboard the aircraft had been in two weeks of quarantine before leaving Germany.
Having landed in the Falkland Islands, the aircraft will now remain at Mount Pleasant until Wednesday. As local ground staff cannot board the aircraft, the flight has taken all the equipment and personnel required to turn around the aircraft. This includes maintenance personnel, in addition to ground handlers. While on the ground, the crew will be required to quarantine once more.
The flight is expected to depart from Mount Pleasant on Wednesday as LH2575. Rather than returning to Hamburg, D-AIXP will fly to Munich, Lufthansa’s Airbus A350 base. The aircraft is set to arrive back at around 14:00 Munich time on Thursday, February 4th.
Onboard the flight will be the crew that flew down to the Falkland Islands, in addition to the researchers and crew that have just finished an expedition on the Polarstern. They originally left Germany on December 20th. Given the expedition’s nature, they, too, have essentially been quarantining on the ship for more than 14 days due to its isolation.