Australian's cricket squad is now resting up at the mid-England city of Derby, ahead of next month's round of T20 and One Day International matches, after an 19 hour journey involving two stopovers at Colombo and Dubai in a chartered all-business class jet from French 'boutique airline' La Compagnie.
In previous years the team would hop a commercial flight – and if it wasn't for Covid-19, that probably would have been the Qantas Airbus A380 from Sydney to London via Singapore, or the Qantas Boeing 787 non-stop from Perth to London.
But with all international Qantas flights grounded – while all of the A380s and most of the Boeing 787s stand idle in California's Mojave Desert – Cricket Australia went casting around for an alternative.
They found it in the grounded fleet of La Compagnie, which usually shuttles a pair of all-business class Airbus A321neo jets daily between France (Paris and Nice) and New York, but in March 2020 suspended flights until mid-September due to travel restrictions between the two countries.
Outfitted for high-flying executives, the Airbus A321neo also proved a suitable ride for twenty-one of Australia's elite cricketers.
La Compagnie flew the jet – chartered to Cricket Australia at an undisclosed price – from Paris to Mumbai to Perth, where it collected the white-ball squad, most of whom who had in turn flown in from ports around the country, including a Qantas Boeing 737 from Sydney.
With 76 business class seats from tip to tail, the A321neo offered plenty of room for the players, coaches and support staff.
The seats all convert into a fully lie-flat bed – handy for the overnight legs of the journey, or when you're simply too tired or too bored to do anything else but nap.
In addition to the 15-inch inflight entertainment screens and noise-cancelling headphones, the jet is comes with fast inflight WiFi – although it's not known if this was active for the charter flight.
However, as the small single-aisle A321neo lacks the globe-striding range of the Airbus A380 or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the journey from Perth to Derby was divided into three legs.
The flight left Perth in the evening of Sunday August 23 for a 7h40m trek to Colombo. One hour later, it was wheels-up for the short four hour hop to Dubai.
Then it was time for the final leg of the journey – a 7h30m direct flight to East Midlands Airport, which is usually served by low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Jet2 for UK domestic and European short-range destinations.
The team will reportedly spend several days in a hotel attached to Derby's cricket ground before the three-hour bus ride to Southampton's Rose Bowl, where the first of three T20 matches will be played from September 4-6, with three One Day Internationals at Manchester's Old Trafford from September 11-16.
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