On 2 and 4 November 2021, an Airbus A340-300 operated two flights to Antarctica from Cape Town. While details about the mission are not known, it is believed that the plane was flown in to bring more fuel and supplies directly to research camps on the southern continent.
According to flight monitoring service RadarBox.com, the Hi Fly A340-300, registered as 9H-SOL, left its home base in Beja, Portugal, on October 30. This four-engine aircraft, which is designed for long-haul operations, arrived in Cape Town on a 10-hour flight at 22:25.
On 31 October and 1 November the aircraft remained in Cape Town. It is believed that the A340 was on a resupply mission to Antarctica.
As the British Flight Portal Simple Flying reports, flight data related to Antarctica is rare and mostly inaccurate. What is certain, however, is that the plane made two flights to the white continent, the first on November 2 and another on November 4.
Novolasarevskaya Station or White Desert
In Queen Maud Land on the Antarctic coast lies the Russian Novolasarevskaya Station and not far from it the luxury tourist camp of the company White Desert.
Recently, Simple Flying platform had the opportunity to speak with Patrick Woodhead, CEO of White Desert, about the future of his company in Antarctica. This company uses a Gulfstream G550 to transport their guests. During the interview, Woodhead noted that an Airbus A340 would be part of his Antarctic operations plan and said:
“For 2021, we want to add a wide-body aircraft – an Airbus A340 – that will transport cargo and scientists to their research stations,” he told Simple Flying. “Sharing our aircraft with scientists and visitors helps get scientists to their research sites more efficiently, reducing environmental impact.”
Research by PolarJournal with a direct inquiry to White Desert revealed that the company did indeed use the aircraft for logistical purposes from Cape Town. Owner Robyn Woodhead confirmed this in a message to PolarJournal.
On the other hand, transports to the Russian Novolasarevskaya station were mostly carried out by Russian Il-76s. In the meantime, however, these machines are getting on in years and are no longer up to date in terms of climate friendliness.
In recent years, there has been an increase in supply flights using more modern equipment. Icelandair aircraft have been used on several occasions, most recently in early 2021 to repatriate personnel from the Norwegian “Troll Research Station”.
The Swiss airline “Privat Air” was the first private company to fly to Antarctica with a Boeing B-737 on 28 November 2012, serving the Norwegian “Troll Research Station”.
For some time now, there has also been a regular flight connection to Wilkins Aerodrome near Casey Station in Australia with an A-319 operated by Skytraders. On the other hand, a C130 Hercules aircraft of the Australian Air Force is used for cargo flights.
In addition to being supplied by cargo ships, the American McMurdo Station and, right next to it, the New Zealand Scott Base are also supplied by modern aircraft. These flights usually depart from Christchurch in New Zealand. The Amundsen-Scott base at the South Pole also relies almost exclusively on flying machines.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal