Airline plans landings on ice in Antarctica

Air New Zealand has ambitious plans to fly south

Air New Zealand is planning flights to Antarctica that would land on an ice runway. However, these would be charter flights, initially at least, carrying scientists and support crews rather than tourists.

Government and military agencies already fly to Antarctica. New Zealand’s flag carrier is considering a Boeing 767-300 passenger jet for the trips.

The airline could make the five-hour, 2,090 nautical mile journey between Christchurch and the Pegasus runway on the Ross Ice Shelf without refuelling, if conditions are good. This would save having to transport fuel to Antarctica, which is a costly operation.

A trial run is planned for October 5. Two more flights, chartered by Antarctica New Zealand, would then be operated during the upcoming Antarctic summer season.

AP

[pictured: RNZAF Boeing at Pegasus Airfield, 2011; courtesy New Zealand Defence Force]