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Qantas to operate its longest ever nonstop flight

Qantas is to operate its longest ever nonstop commercial flight.

The rescue flight, which is being run to repatriate Australians stuck in Central and South America, will cover a whopping 14,680km in one go.

Flying from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Darwin, Australia on 5 October, the service will beat the airline’s previous longest commercial flight distance – 14,498km between London and Perth – by 182km.

The flight will take around 18 hours, operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Once back in Australia, passengers arriving from the Argentinian capital will have to self-isolate in the Howard Springs quarantine facility for 14 days.

Some Australians have been stuck overseas for months with no way home during the pandemic.

Joe May has been trying to get back from Panama for eight months – he managed to get a seat on the upcoming flight for A$2,396 (£1,285).

“I teach English here and as a result of almost a year of lockdown we have burnt through all our savings,” he told Stuff. “A very dear friend paid for this flight with their credit card.”

May made the decision to return home after developing an autoimmune disease that cannot be treated in Panama. Two previous flights he was booked on were cancelled.

He has to travel without his three-year-old daughter and Ecuadorian wife, who must stay behind while he applies for residency for them, a process which could take two years.

“My heart is broken to be leaving my wife and little girl,” he said. “Right now I quite simply feel numb, uncertain and lost.”

Stranded Aussies spread across Central and South America will be hoping to catch the flight, but there are fears they may not be able to cross the Argentinian border.

At present, only citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter, but restrictions are due to be eased on 1 October.

A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said: “The Australian Government continues to work hard to assist Australians to return, including helping them access scheduled commercial flights within passenger caps and implementing a schedule of facilitated commercial flights above the existing passenger caps to maximise quarantine capacity at the Howard Springs facility.”

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