Qantas in pursuit of Aurora Australis | Polarjournal
To see the southern aurora borealis, two Qantas 787 Dreamliners were in Antarctica on May 14 and 15 (Photo: Brad Phipps / Chimu)

May through July is the time of year when the Aurora Australis light show begins to enchant the night sky of the Southern Hemisphere. To see the light show, Qantas has flown 787-9 Dreamliners as far south as 60 degrees latitude towards Antarctica in recent days. Until the end of June there will be some more flights to Antarctica.

On May 14, a Qantas Boeing 787-9 left Brisbane in the early evening for an 11.5-hour round trip south. The next day, another Quantas plane departed Sydney for Antarctica. On board were passengers hoping to see the southern auroras at their best during a night flight. The last Aurora Australis flight will take place at the end of June. The flights are organized by the Australian tour operator “Chimu”.

Quantas charter flights were divided into six zones. Prices started at about $1,000 for an economy class seat with limited visibility. To get an unobstructed view and a comfortable seat in a Qantas Business Suite you had to fork out up to $5,439.

In summer, “Chimu” also organises Antarctic day flights from various Australian cities. These fly over the coast and mountains of East Antarctica. “Chimu” also charters a Qantas plane for an annual New Year’s Eve Antarctica flight.

The flight itinerary of the 11-hour Qantas special flight from Sydney can be seen. (Photo: RadarBox)

Sightseeing flights to Antarctica from New Zealand were also offered in the past. Following a tragic accident on Air Zealand Flight 901, which had cost the lives of all 257 people on board, further flights were suspended and not offered at a later date.

Sightseeing flights to the Arctic were also popular in Europe

Also in Europe various Arctic flights had been on offer in the Internet. Mostly these were ‘North Pole flights’. The project started in Germany. The organizer AirEvents chartered the planes until Air Berlin went bankrupt.

There were also charter flights for the solar eclipse of 20 March 2015, whose course stretched from the Faroe Islands across the European North Atlantic to Spitsbergen.

An Airbus A340 of the Swiss airline “Edelweiss” was scheduled to take off on May 10, 2019 for a 16-hour special flight over the Arctic and the North Pole. From Zurich, the plane was to fly via Germany, Denmark and, after a refuelling stop, via Norway, the Barents Sea, Spitsbergen to the North Pole. The offer was unique in the world, reported “AirEvents” at the time. The prices for the flight ranged between 499 and 9,999 euros.

But nothing came of it. After strong protests from some environmental organizations, “Edelweiss” cancelled the flight.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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