Qantas mercy flight brings home stranded Aussies
Exclusive: A Qantas mercy flight carrying medical supplies and more than 150 Australians has landed in Melbourne in another weapon against COVID-19.
The flight, which touched down just before 6.30pm AEST, is part of a co-ordinated attempt to keep a weekly flight from London to Australia running for people stranded in Europe.
It's understood the flight carried essential medical equipment, including protective masks and gloves, which was sourced from throughout the world and shipped to London to be returned to Australia.
The medical shipment was a key part of making sure the service was flying, a source close to the discussions said.
The Qantas Dreamliner QF10 left London and flew via Perth to Melbourne, with three medical staff on board.
Passengers were unable to get off at Perth to maintain strict quarantine rules as Australia battled the coronavirus.
The flight's captain, Michael King, said while the flight path was normal, the lack of aircraft activity in the skies was strange.
"It was eerily quiet with very little traffic in skies that are normally very busy, in particular over Europe and India, I saw around 10 aircraft during the entire flight so that was a very peculiar scenario but it was nice to play our part in repatriating Australians that needed to get home," he said.
The flights running weekly between London and Australia have been sold out for the next three weeks.
They are leaving Australia largely empty, except for essential workers travelling as part of the COVID-19 effort.
Australia's High Commissioner to the UK, George Brandis, has been working with Qantas and the government to organise the flights.
The service has been called Skippy and was a key route, along with other services via Qatar.
Mr Brandis said: "Skippy the Qantas 787 has made it home to Australia with a planeload of Australians and medical supplies. We extend our sincere thanks to the Qantas crew led by Captain Michael King".
Originally published as Qantas mercy flight brings home stranded Aussies