Lufthansa is planning to make history. The company is planning one of the longest flights in its history to exchange researchers and technicians at the German Neumayer Station in Antarctica. Exceptionally, the exchange shall be made via the Falkland Islands. Crew and passengers are already in quarantine. The special flight is being carried out on behalf of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI). The passengers then continue their journey by ship.
This transport is particularly necessary because of the current Corona pandemic. Due to worldwide travel restrictions, the researchers are currently unable to reach Antarctica via conventional travel routes. Usually the exchange is done via Cape Town, which is not possible at the moment because of the COVID-19 protection measures. Under no circumstances should the COVID-19 virus be introduced to Neumayer Station. For this reason, the four pilots, four technicians and ten flight attendants of Lufthansa, as well as the researchers and technicians travelling with them, are already in quarantine.
The airline Air Tanker flies regularly from its base RAF Brize Norton in England to the Falkland Islands on behalf of the British Air Force with an A330. Because of the travel restrictions in place and the risk of falling ill, this was not an option either.
Lufthansa record flight
On February 1, 2021, at 7 a.m., the special flight will mark the start of this special journey and the plane will make its return flight just two days later. The special flight will be operated with an A350, the most modern member of the Lufthansa long-haul fleet.
The distance from Hamburg to RAF Mount Pleasant Airport is 13,300 kilometres. The flight duration is calculated with over 15 flight hours. The alternate airport, if weather conditions do not permit a landing in the Falklands, would be Punta Arenas in Chile.
The plane from Falkland is expected back in Munich on February 3 at around 14:00. The entire mission, including preparation and quarantine, takes three weeks. This special flight is likely to be the longest passenger flight in Lufthansa’s history.
The passengers of the special flight will then continue their journey to the Antarctic on the research icebreaker “Polarstern”.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal