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In Brief

Commercial Airline Plans Antarctic Flights

Antarctica is the world's largest desert.
Antarctica is the world's largest desert. (Image credit: NASA.)

Air New Zealand is looking to be the first commercial airline to fly people to and from the southernmost continent, though don't plan your vacation there yet: The flights are just for scientists headed to Antarctica for research.

Currently, scientists and their equipment are flown out to Antarctica on military and government plans, which require refueling after the five-hour flight from Christchurch, New Zealand, and fuel is difficult to get to the icy continent. The commercial flights will be able to head back to New Zealand without refueling, and they will be able to take a lot more people per flight, The Express reports.

Air New Zealand plans to do a test flight on Oct. 5, ahead of the start of the Antarctic summer research season. If successful, the company will run two more flights during the season, when more than 4,000 people are typically on the continent for research activities, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Andrea Thompson
Andrea Thompson

Andrea Thompson is an associate editor at Scientific American, where she covers sustainability, energy and the environment. Prior to that, she was a senior writer covering climate science at Climate Central and a reporter and editor at Live Science, where she primarily covered Earth science and the environment. She holds a graduate degree in science health and environmental reporting from New York University, as well as a bachelor of science and and masters of science in atmospheric chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.