A group of 18 pilots and flight attendants are several days into a two-week quarantine so that they can take scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research on a 13,700 km non-stop flight to the Falkland Islands where they will then embark on a polar research expedition.
The 15-hour flight from Hamburg to Mount Pleasant on the Falkland Islands will be the longest passenger flight ever operated by German flag carrier Lufthansa, made possible because the airline will be using its fuel-efficient Airbus A350-900 aircraft.
In order to help protect the Falkland Islanders and the expedition from COVID-19, all 92 passengers along with the pilots and flight attendants must self-isolate for 14-days before departure. The crew entered quarantine last Saturday ahead of the February 1 departure.
But despite the strict health rules and the long flight-time, Lufthansa didn’t have any shortage of volunteers for this unique mission. “Despite the crew restrictions for this particular flight, 600 flight attendants applied for this trip,” Captain Rolf Uzat, who will be leading the mission, explained.
Cargo and baggage has already been prepared and will remain sealed in storage in its own Coronavirus quarantine storage ahead of departure. Catering and waste will have to remain on the aircraft on arrival in Mount Pleasant and Lufthansa will fly out its own maintenance handling team to deal with the turnaround on the ground.
Ordinarily, polar scientists would travel down to the Falklands via South Africa but that route was quickly scrapped when the epidemic situation in the country took off. Trips planners have been looking at alternative routes since June 2020.
Once on the Falkland Islands, the final part of the trip Antarctica has to be on the research vessel Polarstern.
Although the 8,512 mile flight from Hamburg to Mount Pleasant might be the longest ever passenger flight for Lufthansa, it doesn’t come anywhere near some of the longest regularly scheduled passenger flights (at least pre-panemic).
That prize belongs to Singapore Airlines which operates a direct flight between Singapore and New Jersey, covering 9,534 miles in around 18 and a half hours.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.