Stranded cruise passengers flown home on 3 British Airways 777s
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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines found itself in a sticky situation last weekend when no port would allow its Braemar vessel to dock, as several passengers and crew were showing symptoms of the coronavirus. Since then, the cruise line had been planning how it would dock and get the 682 passengers on board back to the U.K.
After spending three days off the coast of the Bahamas, Cuban authorities granted permission for the ship to dock in the country. As of Thursday, 19 March the cruise line has completed its repatriation effort after docking in Havana.
Fred. Olsen chartered three Boeing 777 aircraft from British Airways, which operated the repatriation flights from Havana to London Heathrow. On Wednesday, the three flights took off from Havana (HAV) as BA9110, BA9112 and BA9114.
As of Thursday at 11:18 a.m. GMT, BA9114 was the last of the three repatriation flights to land at LHR, carrying passengers from Fred. Olsen’s Braemar.
“All guests on this flight will have medical professionals available and will have support with any onward travel arrangements or requirements”, said a spokesperson for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. “We are making arrangements for guests flying back to London Heathrow, including access to coach transfers to either London Gatwick or Manchester airports, where their outbound flights for this cruise departed from”.
The cruise line said that all passengers on board the three repatriation flights would not be required to self-isolate after landing in London. Guests who tested positive for coronavirus were taken back to the U.K. on a separate flight from those passengers on BA9110, BA9112 and BA9114, arriving instead at MoD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, a military aircraft testing site.
On 10 March, one guest and four crew members of the Braemar tested positive for COVID-19. An additional guest who originally provided an inconclusive result was later confirmed to be positive.
According to Planespotters.net, BA9110 was operated by G-STBA, a nearly 10-year old 777-300 aircraft that was delivered to BA in July 2010, while BA9112 was operated by G-STBG, a nearly 7-year-old 777-300 that was delivered to BA in September 2013. On board both aircraft is BA’s four-class offering: First, Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller.
BA9114 was operated by G-YMMT, a nearly 11-year–old 777-200 that was delivered to BA in June 2009. G-YMMT was repainted in June 2010 to add the phrasing “Keep the flag flying”, according to Planespotters.net. This 772 features a three-class configuration: Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller.
“I would like to extend my sincere thanks on behalf of Fred. Olsen to the Cuban Authorities, the Port of Mariel and the Cuban people for their support”, Fred. Olsen Managing Director Peter Deer said in a statement. “Other countries would not allow Braemar to dock once we had confirmed cases of coronavirus on board. Thanks to their kindness we are now able to get people home. Your support will not be forgotten. From the bottom of my heart, thank you”.
The outbreak is similar to outbreaks that have occurred in recent weeks on two Princess Cruises ships, the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess. In both cases, passengers were quickly isolated in their cabins after the first passengers tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Most cruise lines around the world in recent days have announced a temporary suspension of operations due to the growing spread of the new coronavirus. As a result, cruising in some regions around the world might not resume until the end of summer.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
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