The Punta Arena-based Chilean carrier Aerovías DAP plans to operate over 150 flights to Antarctica between November 2022 and March of 2023, an increase of 30% over last summer, it was announced.
The company started in 1980 at the Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo Airport (PUQ) and currently offers charter flights for cruise ship passengers and expedition ships, logistics and support to the Antarctic programs of different countries, and medevac services.
Aerovías DAP's Charter Manager Nicolás Paulsen said that the increase in frequencies is a response to growing interests and needs in post-pandemic times. Now everything is starting to pick up again, mainly due to the good vaccination levels, he commented.
He also highlighted that air connectivity between the Magallanes Region in mainland Chile and Antarctica was a regional, national and international asset. This connection entails not only comparative advantages for Chile but also competitive advantages since the volume of operations translates into economic feasibility for many countries.
Aerovías DAP completed its first flight to Antarctica on February 12, 1989, when a turboprop de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, registration CC-CHV, performed a sanitary transfer. Four months later, and after several unsuccessful attempts due to weather conditions, the first commercial flight was completed.
The Twin Otter was eventually replaced by the Beechcraft King Air 100 with registration CC-CLY. In 2003, Aerovías DAP added the de Havilland Canada Dash 7 to add more seats amid growing demand. Four years later, the company took delivery of a four-engined British Aerospace 146-200 jet aircraft with 96 seats, which is the stanchion of today's operations.
The company has a fleet of other aircraft and some helicopters. It is the largest air operator in Antarctica. Flights from Punta Arenas arrive at Teniente Rodolfo Marsh Martin Aerodrome, the northernmost aerodrome on the continent, close to the civilian population center of Villa Las Estrellas, 950 kilometers southeast of Puerto Williams. (Source: aviacionline.com)