Tuesday 14 April 2020

COVID-19 Support Flight activities

Outside the normal sphere of coverage for this blog but worth recording for historical purposes is the foreign component of supporting flight activities in response to the global effects of COVID-19. 

As New Zealand went into "lock down" near the end of its peak summer tourism phase, thousands of predominately European visitors were left stranded dotted around the country with little means to exit the region as airline upon airline withdrew scheduled services. 

As a means of repatriating these visitors, overseas Governments provided urgent commercial airliner charter flights giving a much needed economic boost to the respective airlines who otherwise were grounding most if not all of their fleet as demand for travel ground to a halt. 

Air New Zealand secured a number of repatriation flights utilising its Boeing 777-300 fleet to operate from either Auckland or Christchurch to Frankfurt via Vancouver, while Lufthansa operated several Boeing 747-400 flights from Christchurch to Frankfurt via Hong Kong and Airbus A380's from Auckland to Frankfurt via Hong Kong. Condor operated a single Boeing 767-300 charter from Christchurch to Phuket and Frankfurt. 
Another one off was Austrian Airlines operating a Boeing 777-200 through Auckland and Christchurch, first time for this operator to NZ. 

Air New Zealand was also tasked with conducting passenger repatriation flights on behalf of foreign governments from Christchurch to Sydney and Christchurch to Hong Kong and the airline also secured multi cargo only charter flights using a mix of widebody Boeing equipment spanning much of their once normal passenger carrying Pacific Rim network. 

Foreign carriers continued to ply a trade to/from New Zealand with the likes of Cathay Pacific, China Southern, Air China, China Eastern, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar all being regular features at Auckland. 

Qantas effectively withdrew all international services, but has briefly reinstated some Trans-Tasman activity to carry a mix of passengers and freight. 

Air Calin operated a one off freight flight through Auckland flying from/to Noumea and debuted their Airbus A330NEO for this visit marking a first of type/variant to New Zealand. 

Tasman Cargo Airlines Boeing 767-300 VH-EXZ has been getting additional exercise to capitalise on freight movements as has Airwork Flight Operations with one of their Boeing 737-400 freighters making a trip from Auckland to Nadi and back, and additional Sydney services. 

Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300 ZK-OKQ departs Christchurch 06 April 2020 for Vancouver and Frankfurt 

Austrian Airlines Boeing 777-200 OE-LPD departs Christchurch 09 April 2020 for Auckland, Kuala Lumpur and Vienna.
It had arrived Christchurch late 07 April 2020 from Vienna and Kuala Lumpur. 

Condor Boeing 767-300 D-ABUT arrived Christchurch during the first hour of 06 April 2020 from Phuket. It departed on Bangkok the same day. 

Examples of the Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 visitors to Christchurch which routed from/to Frankfurt via Bangkok. 
Swiss Boeing 777-300 HB-JNK arrived Auckland in the early hours of 07 April 2020 from Zurich and Bangkok. It departed over the reverse route 08 April 2020. 

Lufthansa Airbus A380 D-AIMJ taxis for departure from Auckland 08 April 2020 heading to Bangkok and Frankfurt. 

Air Calin Airbus A330NEO F-ONET touches down at Auckland 08 April 2020. 

Lufthansa Airbus A380 D-AIMJ rolling runway 23L 08 April 2020. 

Air Calin Airbus A330NEO F-ONET taxis for departure from Auckland 08 April 2020. 

Lufthansa Airbus A380 D-AIMN taxis for departure from Auckland 10 April 2020. 

Lufthansa Airbus A380 D-AIMN climbs to 3000ft passing over Auckland Airport 10 April 2020 as it headed for a downtown fly-by before heading on to Bangkok. 

Korean Air Boeing 787-9 HL-7206 taxis for departure at Auckland 10 April 2020. 

Air New Zealand Boeing 777-200 ZK-OKH rests at Auckland 10 April 2020 like much of the carrier's widebody fleet. 

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 B-KQI taxis for departure from Auckland 11 April 2020. 

Qatar Boeing 777-200 A7-BBD departs Auckland 11 April 2020. 

Shanghai Airlines, operating on behalf of China Eastern, Boeing 787-9 B-208X find sunshine halfway down the runway after arriving 11 April 2020. 

China Southern Boeing 777-300 B-209Y arriving Auckland 11 April 2020. 

Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330 9M-MTU prepares to depart Auckland 11 April 2020. 

SG Aviation Global Express VH-SGA arrives Auckland 12 April 2020 from Melbourne. It departed soon after heading to Essendon. 

Virgin Australia Boeing 777-300 VH-VPD visited Auckland 12 April 2020 arriving from Brisbane and then departed for Hong Kong and Paris. 

Shortstop Jet Charter Falcon 900 VH-OAA arrives at Auckland from Sydney 12 April 2020. It departed on return to Sydney a short time later. From Sydney to Auckland and then onto Essendon 13 April 2020. 

Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNB exits the runway at Auckland 13 April 2020 after arriving from Melbourne. 

Lufthansa Airbus A380 D-AIMN arrives Auckland 12 April 2020 on the only daylight arrival for the charter programme. 

Once a common sight - but sadly now a rarity as the country endures lock-down. Air New Zealand Airbus A320 ZK-OXK arrives Auckland 12 April 2020 after a flight from Christchurch. 

Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNB climbs away after a short takeoff roll 12 April 2020 on return to Melbourne. 


  1. Thanks Mike for this excellent overview of the long haul times we are in in New Zealand.

  2. What an outstanding collection of images Mike. Very well done Sir. Cheers from Toronto.