Large Passenger Jets Are Landing In Antarctica More Than Ever Before

One of the defining trends over the past few years in aviation has been increased access. Airlines are launching more routes to new places and furthering connectivity. Now, the focus is starting to move to Antarctica. But, while this is not a growing passenger hub, Antarctica is starting to take charter flights on larger aircraft.

Titan Airways
Larger passenger aircraft are coming to Antarctica. Photo: Alec Wilson via Flickr

A charter flight is coming to Antarctica

There are some crazy, insane trips in the world. You can join National Geographic’s destinations tour on a Boeing 757, charter a private air cruise with Four Seasons, or else, soon, use an app called FLYJETS to come up with your own trip. But, on February 6th, there will be another interesting flight. The Points Guy is reporting a special 757 flight to Antarctica on February 6th. This flight is a Titan Airways charter.

Titan Airways
The Titan Airways Boeing 757 will fly from Cape Town to Antarctica. Photo: Getty Images

This Titan Airways Boeing 757 is a special one in an all-business configuration with 76 recliner seats in a 2-2 layout.

However, this is not going for any old tourist flight. This charter is for the World Marathon Challenge. Essentially, people will get onboard, land in Antarctica, and then get the chance to run a marathon.

Other 757 Antarctica flights

This won’t be the first time a Boeing 757 lands in Antarctica. Back in 2015, a Boeing 757 landed in Antarctica at Union Glacier. This was, in part, for testing out the viability of flying commercial flights according to Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions which was a member of making this flight happen. Here’s a video with more information on the flight:

Could Antarctica see commercial flights?

Most tourists to Antarctica currently arrive via ship. Even then, Antarctica is not most people’s first choice when it is time to go on vacation. Although, there are opportunities for demand to grow with the introduction of commercial flights. Currently, opportunities are quite limited to charter flights and flights for researchers. However, there are sightseeing flights to Antarctica.

Antarctica flights
Currently, Antarctica flights are limited to tourist charters and research flights. Photo: Eli Duke via Flickr

If an airline were to launch commercial flights, this airline would likely be based in South America, South Africa or Australia or New Zealand. From South America, the most likely candidate would be LATAM with flights out of Santiago.

LATAM A320neo
Perhaps LATAM could launch flights using A320neo aircraft. Photo: Airbus

The other option out of Australia could be Qantas. Currently, some Antarctic viewing flights are on chartered Qantas aircraft including the Boeing 747. If commercial flights were to ever become a thing, Qantas could capitalize on this with flights out of Sydney or Melbourne.

Qantas Antarctica Flights
Qantas could capitalize on Australia’s close proximity to Antarctica with flights. Photo: Qantas

The other option could be Air New Zealand out of Auckland.

Air New Zealand
Perhaps Air New Zealand could launch flights to Antarctica. Photo: Simple Flying

The environmental impact

However, airlines also need to take into account the environmental impact of new commercial services. In particular, Antarctica is a fragile environment. For an airline to launch new services to the continent, this would require a host of new infrastructure developments. There would have to be facilities to handle tourists in Antarctica and an upgrade to existing airfields. Not to mention, the increased numbers of people in Antarctica could disrupt the fragile environment.

Antarctica
Commercial flights to Antarctica could disrupt the fragile environment. Photo: Andreas Kambanis via Flickr

Overall

Perhaps, for the better, Antarctica is best left alone until systems are in place to make commercial flights and infrastructure development more environmentally friendly. Not to mention, due to the sometimes harsh weather conditions on the continent, this could significantly affect airline operations. In a worst-case scenario, seeing a crew and passengers trapped in Antarctica amid a raging storm could end horrendously.

For now, however, larger aircraft are starting to make some visits to the continent. This latest charter is one example.

Will you fly this special charter to Antarctica? Do you think Antarctica should open up to more commercial flights? Let us know in the comments!

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