Like an ice aeroplane, Air France’s A340 Airbus landed at the southernmost point of the Earth on Saturday as it toured Antarctica in order to open up new prospects for tourism in the region.
The plane, which is more than 20 years old, carried four guests as well as a pilot, to Antarctica on a journey lasting 65 hours. The rest of the planes’ 450-strong crew flew to land on Rorke’s Drift, South America’s deepest coast, and then flew the rest of the way.
And it all took place during winter, the time of year that Antarctic explorers could not work and decided to fly there instead. The A340, named “Marziano,” was named after Antarctica’s first European explorer, Marziano Augustini, who was killed in a boating accident in 1894.
“We have asked ourselves a few questions before we took the flight,” said Air France chief executive Franck Terner, according to AFP. “Why do we want to return to Antarctica? Why do we want to fly the A340? Why do we want to take these risks and risks are multiplied by our size, by the inconvenience, by the itinerary, by the age of the aircraft?”
Air France plans to fly the A340 to nine sites in Antarctica over the next two years, including the first country-to-country sea routes. “It is revolutionary,” Terner said, “What was previously the exclusive domain of governments is being opened up to an industry that is much, much larger.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.
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