Countries actually flying scientists to Antarctica do it by flights run by government, military agencies, or by specialized companies.
Air New Zealand plans to use one of its regular passenger jets for the Antarctic flights, a Boeing 767-300.
Airline spokeswoman Marie Hosking told AP the plane does not need any modifications and that the Antarctic ice runway has the characteristics of a regular runway that’s covered in dry snow, which would the airline’s pilots could expect to encounter at an airport like Tokyo.
The planes will depart from Christchurch in New Zealand and will land on the Pegasus runway on the Ross Ice Shelf.
The 2,090 nautical miles trip will take roughly five hours and can carry 200 scientists and support staff on each trip. The plane will not require refuelling for the return leg.
The flights have been chartered by Antarctica New Zealand, the agency that runs the country’s Antarctic program. Flights would also carry American scientists as the US works collaboratively with the South Pacific nation in Antarctica.
The airline has planned a trial flight to take place on October 5 and if successful it will operate two more charter flights during the Antarctic summer season.
But tourism to the coldest continent on Earth will not be a part of the flights, as Stephen Parker, a spokesman for New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, said the country tries to limit Antarctic tourism and minimize its impact on the environment.
This is consistent with Antarctica’s status as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science,” he said.
Capt. Ivan & Agencies