In what is a beautiful story of collaboration and selfless care for others, Lufthansa, Air New Zealand and the people of New Zealand worked together through the COVID-19 crisis to get travellers safely back home to Europe.
On Easter Monday evening, the pilot of the last Lufthansa repatriation flight out of New Zealand took off from Auckland Airport with a plane full of Germans, Austrians and Swiss nationals and treated the city to a low fly-by tribute to say thank you.
In response, The Sky Tower in Auckland shone brightly in the red, black and gold of the German flag and every Kiwi involved in the rescue mission no doubt had a smile on their faces and the contentment of a job well done.
The A380 flight was the last of fifteen operated by the German airline and Air New Zealand to repatriate up to 15,000 Europeans stranded in the country since the COVID-19 lockdown and travel bans were put in place.
Over the last couple of weeks, Five Airbus A380s with 509 seats each and five Boeing 747s with 371 seats each flew from Auckland and Christchurch to Bangkok and then on to Frankfurt.
Remarkably, a total of 210 already stood down Lufthansa crew members and employees volunteered to make their way to New Zealand to bring their fellow countrymen, women and children back home.
What’s even more amazing is that before these flights, Lufthansa had never flown to New Zealand before its first repatriation flight on March 28, which flew to Frankfurt via Tokyo.
Passengers on the repatriation flights are believed to be required to reimburse the German Government for the cost of an economy class ticket, but they did not have to pay in advance.
To say thank you to the people of Christchurch, Lufthansa pilots also flew similar fly-bys during earlier repatriation flights when they departed Christchurch earlier in the week.
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