Qantas’ ‘flight to nowhere’ toured Australia on Saturday with Captain Alex Passerini dipping as low as 4,000 feet as he flew past landmarks such as the Great Barrier Reef, over the Whitsundays and Uluru.
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, VH-ZND msn 63390, departed Sydney at 10:43am on 12 October for the sold-out, eight-and-a-half-hour journey.
The 787-9, which features the biggest windows on Qantas’ fleet, then tracked across Australia to conduct low-level fly-bys of Uluru and Kata Tjuta before turning back to Sydney for a flyover of Sydney Harbour and Bondi Beach. Flight QF787 finally landed 7:09pm.
Along the way, passengers heard two ground-to-air satellite phone calls over the PA from local experts talking about the history of both the Whitsundays and Uluru. They also saw a cheeky message scrawled on the beach of Coolum Beach by Visit Sunshine Coast.
The airline earlier said the flight sold out within 10 minutes with ticket prices for the 150 seats ranging from $787 for economy to $3,787 each for business class.
Captain Passerini said prior to the departure, “We will angle the aircraft so that passengers on both sides get a great view, in particular of Uluru after we were granted special permission for the flyover. It’s going to be a really special day and we are excited to be back in the air again.”
Qantas also revealed the flight would offset carbon emissions and didn’t rule out putting on further special flights for passengers.
The flight follows a recent trend worldwide of airlines launching flights to nowhere.
World of Aviation has previously reported how EVA Air operates a scenic sortie over the East China Sea, circling Japan’s Ryukyu Islands before returning to Taipei, while rumours persist Singapore Airlines is planning a similar initiative.
The flight also had the effect of highlighting Australia’s domestic border closures.
In September, Australian Aviation revealed that 40,000 people have now signed a Qantas petition urging states to open their borders.
The petition, which the airline has urged all its employees to sign, argues curtailing movement across states should be “risk-assessed” against an agreed definition of a COVID-19 hotspot.
The campaign launched alongside Qantas sending targeted letters to MPs in states it said did not agree to a road map out of “hard border regimes” during the last national cabinet meeting.
One passage of the correspondence read, “Arbitrary border restrictions are having a profound economic and social cost to communities, businesses, supply chains and jobs in Queensland.
“I ask that you closely consider these implications for the welfare and economic wellbeing of your community and join the call for a rational, harmonised approach to border management guided by the best medical advice.”