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Lufthansa is Sending Five A380s and Five 747 Jumbojets to New Zealand to Rescue Thousands of Stranded Tourists

Lufthansa is Sending Five A380s and Five 747 Jumbojets to New Zealand to Rescue Thousands of Stranded Tourists

Lufthansa is launching a massive repatriation effort to bring back nearly four and a half thousand German tourists who have been stuck in New Zealand after the country closed its borders on March 20 and banned nearly all international flights. A total of 100,000 foreign tourists are believed to be stranded in the country following New Zealand’s decision to impose Level 4 restrictions to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

In cooperation with Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, Lufthansa is now sending a fleet of five Airbus A380’s and five Boeing 747’s to Christchurch and Auckland over the next few days to bring back some of its own citizens still in the country. The Airbus A380 has a maximum occupancy of 509, while the Boeing 747 can seat 371 – a total of 4,400 available seats for tourists to get home on.

Photo Credit: Lufthansa

Both the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 were grounded by Lufthansa after a massive and unprecedented slump in passenger demand and the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in Europe and elsewhere around the world. They have now been dusted off for this special mission, along with 210 crew members who would otherwise be at home on short-time work.

Some of those crew members have already been sent to Bangkok where the planes will make a stopover for refuelling and a crew change before continuing onto New Zealand. The flights will again return via Bangkok to swap over crew once more before continuing onto Frankfurt.

The first two flights will arrive in Frankfurt on the night of Tuesday, April 7th and Wednesday, April 8th. The first, a Boeing 747 is set to land at around 11:30 pm, followed by an Airbus A380 around an hour later. Volunteers from the airline are set to look after the 900-odd passengers who spend the night in Frankfurt airport before connecting onto other flights.

Photo Credit: Air New Zealand

One of Lufthansa’s 747s has already made one trip to Auckland around a week ago to repatriate stranded tourists, while Air New Zealand has also been contracted by the Federal government to get German citizens back home. One 777-300 with a capacity of 342 people has made its way to Frankfurt via Vancouver and the airline says more flights are planned in the coming days.

Air New Zealand, which has otherwise suspended all other international flights and slashed its domestic schedule to a skeleton service, says it is working “with several governments on requests for repatriation charters.”

Since beginning repatriation flights, Lufthansa has brought home 70,000 holidaymakers onboard 360 special rescue flights. The airline has visited 77 airports across five continents to bring home German citizens and is currently working on 55 more repatriation flights.

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