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.
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.
This Titan Airways Boeing 757 is a special one in an all-business configuration with 76 recliner seats in a 2-2 layout.
— Cavgeek ✈️ (@cwavgeek) January 3, 2015
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.
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.
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.
The other option could be Air New Zealand out of Auckland.
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.
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!