Qantas is set to embark on one of its longest-ever flights – a 14,683km (9,124 mile) non-stop trek from Buenos Aires to Darwin, and that's allowing for a shortcut via the South Pole.
Set to depart the Argentine capital on Tuesday October 5, it's the latest in a series of special repatriation flights to help bring home Australians stranded overseas, with their first port of call being the Northern Territory's Howard Springs quarantine camp.
And it'll be a long flight – longer even than Qantas' flagship route from Perth direct to London (which could also end up being Darwin to London, at least in the short term, if Western Australia keeps its state borders locked tighter than a drum).
The Perth-London marathon stands as the airline's longest commercial service, with the Boeing 787-9 clocking up some 14,498km – just 185km shy of the Buenos Aires flight, which will also be handled by one of the red-tailed Dreamliners.
Qantas' Buenos Aires-Darwin repatriation flight is expected to clock in at almost 18 hours – the same amount of time as the proposed non-stop Project Sunrise flights between Sydney and London, plans for which Qantas put on hold at the start of the pandemic but will re-evaluate by the end of 2021.
(If Project Sunrise goes ahead, passengers on the fleet of dedicated ultra-long range Airbus A350-1000 jets can expect to enjoy luxe first class suites or all-new business class seats, along with a fresh take on premium economy and even economy class, plus areas where travellers can stand and stretch.)
Over the past 18 months Qantas has been undertaking a series of these charter flights, arranged and under-written by the Australian government – upcoming Qantas repatriation services will collect Australians from London, Delhi, Istanbul and Frankfurt.
As previously reported, Qantas plans to resume scheduled international flights from December 18 2021 with daily flights to Singapore, London and Los Angeles; jetsetters can also look forward to taking off for Vancouver, Tokyo, Fiji and Honolulu in the days following.