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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.