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Antarctica Sightseeing Flights to Operate B747-300ER Charter from Auckland

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Antarctica is one of the coldest, driest, windiest and most remote destinations in the world. It is also one of the most spectacular and diverse places on earth, admired by many but visited by few.

Now, travellers have an unique opportunity to see this pristine location in a day trip, flying from Auckland in New Zealand to the south polar region with Antarctica Sightseeing Flights.

Having carried over 31,000 passengers on 110 “flightseeing” journeys from Australia during the past 18 years, Antarctica Sightseeing Flights will introduce its first day tour from New Zealand on Sunday 3 February 2013, using a Boeing 747- 400ER aircraft chartered from Qantas.

A pristine white landscape will unfold beneath the aircraft, with a typical flight offering unparalleled views of icebergs, coastal cliffs, majestic glaciers and spectacular mountain ranges, most of which have never been visited by humans.

Phil Asker, Founder and Director of Antarctica Sightseeing Flights, said there was no easier way to explore the remote location than by flying there on a one-day sightseeing trip.

“Our company is part of a group which specialises in tours to the world’s most amazing and remote destinations,” said Mr Asker, who has seen the white continent from the air almost 50 times. “Seeing Antarctica is a lifelong dream for many people, but the cost of a cruise and the length of time spent getting there means the closest that most will ever come to seeing the world’s last great wilderness area is via the media.”

The flight from Auckland on 3 February will accommodate 364 passengers and will be the only commercial flight operating over the Antarctic region at that time. It is expected to overfly the first sea ice about three and a half hours after departing Auckland.

Antarctica sightseeing flights can descend to a minimum of 10,000 feet above sea level, or 2,000 feet above the highest terrain for a radius of 180 kilometres. Strict conditions are met to ensure not only a safe operation, but also to minimise the impact of the sightseeing flight on the perfect environment below.

To maximise viewing opportunities, there are 19 approved flight paths, with selection based on weather forecasts the night before departure then again on the morning of departure and during the flight, when the pilots are in contact with meteorologists to obtain regular satellite picture updates showing clear areas.

Typically, the flight plan will include the Ross Sea with its great expanse of ice, the Italian research base at Terra Nova Bay, Mt Melbourne, Mt Minto, Cape Hallett, Cape Adare and the Ninnis and Mertz Glaciers. Depending upon viewing conditions, other points of interest may include the Trans Antarctic Mountains to see many spectacular glaciers, international research installations including the French base at Dumont d’Urville and the hut of explorer Sir Douglas Mawson.

In addition to the Auckland service, Antarctica Sightseeing Flights will offer five departures from Australia this summer, beginning with the signature New Year’s Eve flight from Melbourne, followed by an Adelaide flight, departing on 20 January, Perth on 26 January, Sydney on 10 February and Melbourne on 17 February. 

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