In early 2020, Qantas, on behalf of the government, operated the first of three emergency repatriation flights to bring more than 680 Australians home, including 168 children.
In February, the first emergency flight from the centre of the outbreak, Wuhan landed in Australia carrying 267 passengers. Qantas had never operated out of Wuhan. They also put on an additional service out of Wuhan and an emergency flight out of Tokyo to bring Australians who were on the Diamond Princess home.
There was no shortage of Qantas team members volunteering to operate the missions which involved extensive planning. This involved hours of collaboration around specific new onboard procedures, logistics of operating into a foreign port that is not part of the airline’s scheduled network and ground handling requirements. They worked closely with the government including DFAT, ADF and the AUSMAT team. To recognise the exceptional team effort, Qantas announced a new staff award called the Spirit of Australia Award, which was presented to 91 Qantas employees.
Qantas has successfully operated around 150 international flights to bring nearly 8,000 Australians home with government support.
During the bushfires, Qantas operated over 50 charter flights carrying firefighters and equipment from free of charge as well as making a $1 million cash donation to bushfire relief and providing paid leave for volunteers.
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