Whoa: Qantas 787 Flies To Fairbanks, Alaska

Whoa: Qantas 787 Flies To Fairbanks, Alaska

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Qantas operated a ridiculously cool flight yesterday, though we don’t officially know why.

Qantas 787-9 flies from Brisbane to Fairbanks

On Monday, July 12, 2021, a Qantas Boeing 787-9 operated a flight from Brisbane, Australia, to Fairbanks, Alaska, with the flight number QF6041. The plane was operated by a 787-9 with the registration code VH-ZNC, a nearly four year old aircraft.

The 7,089-mile flight was operated in a flight time of 12hr56min. If you ask me, this is a pretty remarkable flight in terms of the route, and the south-to-north direction it took. It’s not often you see a transpacific flight that spends that much time over the water, flying pretty close to the International Date Line.

To my knowledge this is the first time that a Qantas 787 has landed in Alaska, so it’s a pretty awesome thing to see. As you’d expect, some spotters went to the airport to photograph the plane.

The aircraft continues to be in Fairbanks as of the time this post is published, and I’m not sure what the Dreamliner’s next movement will be.

I haven’t been able to officially figure out what exactly the purpose of this flight was, though I’m sure some OMAAT readers will have some insights. Unlike other airlines, Qantas hasn’t been operating too many cargo-only flights during the pandemic, and has instead grounded most of its 787 fleet, and its entire A380 fleet.

I guess the most likely explanations for this flight include one of the following:

  • This was some sort of a passenger charter and/or repatriation flight
  • This was some sort of a cargo flight, perhaps picking up cargo in Alaska to bring back to Australia; Alaska is the biggest aircraft cargo hub in the United States (though that’s typically centered around Anchorage rather than Fairbanks)

My guess is that this is military related. Fairbanks has a large military base, so it would make sense that there was some sort of military arrangement here (I’m not sure on which side). As I’ll talk about below, Qantas also recently operated a flight to Colorado Springs, for similar reasons.

If anyone has any insights or can confirm, please report back!

This isn’t Qantas’ only interesting 787 flight

This isn’t Qantas’ only noteworthy flight in recent weeks with the 787. A couple of weeks ago, Qantas operated a Boeing 787 charter from Brisbane to Saint Lucia, a nonstop flight of over 10,000 miles that took 16hr44min. This was to carry the Australian men’s national cricket team to the Caribbean. The plane then returned from Saint Lucia to Los Angeles to Brisbane.

At the beginning of June, another Qantas 787 flew nonstop from Brisbane to Colorado Springs. The next day it flew to Los Angeles, and then back to Brisbane. This was apparently a military charter for training exercises at Fort Carson.

Bottom line

A Qantas Boeing 787 operated a nonstop flight from Brisbane to Fairbanks yesterday. This sure was a unique 13 hour flight, as it’s not often you see such a routing on a transpacific flight.

While the purpose of the flight isn’t officially known, my guess was that this was a military charter, especially given that Qantas also recently operated a flight to Colorado Springs.

What do you make of this Qantas charter to Fairbanks, Alaska?

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  1. Jc

    As someone who worked for the company dealing with the charter planes. It came back again to pick up the military personnel that it dropped off a month or so back. So sadly it’s not for regular travel YET but one day hopefully soon

  2. KZ

    Another Qantas plane flew from LAX to FAI on Labor Day
    https://flightaware.com/live/flight/VHZNB/history/20210906/2325Z/KLAX/PAFA

  3. Andrew Holtham

    Sitting in Anchorage as of August 5th.

  4. Cruiser

    I saw this plane at the Anchorage airport today and was very intrigued! Thank you for solving the mystery of how we ended up with a stunning Qantas 787 here! I wonder when it will depart...

  5. Craig Wheate

    The flight took off again today at 2;50 pm to Anchorage, Alaska.

  6. Bo

    ....their came for the mates rates on Hoodoo beer.

  7. RKTSCI

    Pretty cool! Classmate of mine from high school was one of the first officers on the flight.

  8. Stv

    In my experience working the Fairbanks ramp when we would get randoms like this they would be full of special cars or race horses.

  9. JOHN B

    Now all we need is an Alaska Airlines 737 in Brisbane

  10. Milo

    BEWARE of posts defending Chesa Boudin! SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin is a pro-criminal hack and has single-handedly turned SF into a ghost town and a haven for scums and thugs. Businesses have fled because of his pro-criminal policies. Just google "SF Neiman Marcus smash and grab" and see it for yourself. This happened in Union Square, the Time Square of SF, in broad daylight. And those videos are from local TV stations, hardly right-wing...

    BEWARE of posts defending Chesa Boudin! SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin is a pro-criminal hack and has single-handedly turned SF into a ghost town and a haven for scums and thugs. Businesses have fled because of his pro-criminal policies. Just google "SF Neiman Marcus smash and grab" and see it for yourself. This happened in Union Square, the Time Square of SF, in broad daylight. And those videos are from local TV stations, hardly right-wing at all. If you are not convinced, google "SF Walgreens theft". According to Walgreens, thefts in SF is 4X national average.

    Of course scums and thugs would defend him at all costs, because that's what scums and thugs would do to protect one of theirs.

  11. Margie S

    This Fairbanksan (and USAF retiree) will tell you that FAI gets its share of international cargo flights, tho largely as fuel stops and crew swaps. We also have 2 military bases; Ft Wainwright and Eielson AFB. The latter is home to Cope Thunder and the 18th Aggressor Squadron, which came north when Mt Pinatubo erupted in the PI in 1991. We welcome the Aussies back to Fairbanks. Enjoy your visit.

  12. Alex

    While not on this occasion, qantas have actually been flying a fair number of government sponsored cargo flights during the pandemic.

  13. Elstun Lauesen

    Thank you Dermot.

    BEWARE of the “Recall Chesa Boudin” posts! SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin is facing a right-wing-funded recall effort. He is a progressive and advocate for human rights. As you know Republicans hate human rights.

  14. Rick

    Endre

    Yes Prestige card has stopped taking new applications. Confirmed on few different blogs.

  15. DonnyBrasco

    Ben, somewhat unrelated, but is the AMEX travel portal giving you full hotel availability? I find it listing fewer FHR rooms across the board

  16. scottz95

    It’s a miltary charter flying Australian defence force personnel for a miltary red flag exercise run out of Eielson Airforce base. Been discussed on Australian AvGeek facebook groups.

  17. Endre

    Ben, totally unrelated, but did Citi discontinue the Prestige card?

    1. Eskimo

      So while the rest of the world is at war against Covid-19, Aussies and Yankies are playing wargames with each other (and drive little Greta mad in the process) to prepare for adversaries whose primary weapon isn't ICBM or Stealth Bombers, but hackers. Got to love where your tax money goes.

Featured Comments Load all 22 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

scottz95

It’s a miltary charter flying Australian defence force personnel for a miltary red flag exercise run out of Eielson Airforce base. Been discussed on Australian AvGeek facebook groups.

Jc

As someone who worked for the company dealing with the charter planes. It came back again to pick up the military personnel that it dropped off a month or so back. So sadly it’s not for regular travel YET but one day hopefully soon

KZ

Another Qantas plane flew from LAX to FAI on Labor Day https://flightaware.com/live/flight/VHZNB/history/20210906/2325Z/KLAX/PAFA

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