Work that many airlines have been able to secure—and so improve the cashflow a little—has been occasional charters to repatriate citizens. Some aircrew has had to study some unusual routes, SIDS, STARS, and layouts as a result. There’ve been some exotic trips—Lufthansa to New Zealand, BA to Cuba, and so on. Now Etihad has pioneered their own route to Havana!
We’re quite sure that,
- a) Etihad pilots weren’t expecting the need to get familiar with the charts for Havana and
- b) seniority played a role in getting that trip in—but they didn’t have much time on the ground—less than a day!
The United Arab Emirates government chartered the Etihad 777 A6-ETG to carry Cuban nationals back home on Monday this week, 1st June. The trip was reasonably epic—8087 miles (or just over 13 000km) leaving Abu Dhabi at 13h47Z and 15 hours 18 minutes later arriving at José Marti International Airport. The crew had a brief chance to see the sights, perhaps sample a Cohiba Maduro and walk the beach, then off again at 20h35 on the 2nd.
The trip to the Caribbean by Etihad was overshadowed only by their flight to Israel—with whom the UAE doesn’t have diplomatic relations—delivering 14 tons of aid including PPE and respirators to Palestine.
It seems unlikely that Etihad will fly again soon to either Cuba or Israel, but no doubt they’ve generated plenty of goodwill in their 32 irregular destinations this far!