Coronavirus is Causing Some Unusual FlightsOver the past few weeks, things have been anything but “business as usual” for airlines. As more and more countries shut their borders – leaving some overseas travellers stranded – airlines have had to find some creative solutions.

Two weeks ago, Air Tahiti Nui was forced to find a new way to operate its Papeete-Los Angeles-Paris flight after the USA implementing coronavirus-related travel restrictions. The airline operated one flight non-stop from Papeete to Paris, which happened to take the record for the world’s longest commercial flight. (That’s a remarkable feat for what is effectively a domestic flight!) Over the following days, Air Tahiti Nui operated a couple of flights to Paris via Vancouver and Guadalupe before subsequently suspending the route altogether.

Now, there are some unusual flights happening right here in Australia due to coronavirus.

Direct Qantas flights from Darwin to London

Qantas flights QF1 and QF2, for example, normally operate between Sydney and London via Singapore. But with Singapore banning all transit passengers from today, Qantas will operate these flights over the coming days via Darwin. That’s right, a Qantas Airbus A380 will tonight fly direct from Darwin to London!

Today’s QF2 from London Heathrow to Sydney will also stop in Darwin, rather than Singapore. The flight from London to Darwin is scheduled to take around 16 hours and 20 minutes – which is a marathon flight, but not quite as long as London-Perth.

Qantas flight QF1 will fly from Sydney to London via Darwin over the coming days
QF1 will fly from Sydney to London via Darwin over the coming days

The special flights between Darwin and London will operate to the following schedules:

  • QF1 Darwin (DRW) 23:00 – London (LHR) 06:15 +1 day
  • QF2 London (LHR) 22:05 – Darwin (DRW) 23:55 +1 day

The Qantas flights from Darwin to London will only continue operating for a few days, as Qantas plans to ground all international flights by the end of this week.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum.

Direct El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Perth

Israeli airline El Al, which had been planning to trial three flights between Tel Aviv and Melbourne over the coming months, is also operating an unusual one-off flight today due to coronavirus. El Al is flying direct from Tel Aviv to Perth, and then back to Tel Aviv, to help repatriate stranded travellers.

El Al will fly direct to Perth today
El Al will fly direct to Perth today

The flight from Tel Aviv to Perth departs on 23 March, local time, and the return flight departs from Perth this afternoon (24 March 2020). Here is the schedule:

  • LY87 Tel Aviv (TLV) 18:50 – Perth (PER) 15:00 +1 day
  • LY88 Perth (PER) 19:30 – Tel Aviv (TLV) 04:10 +1 day

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]