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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

11 December 2006

Antarctic Air Service brings Antarctica closer

The Australian Government today announced the acquisition of an Airbus A319 for use on the $46.3 million Australian Government Antarctic Air Service.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the announcement marked an exciting step forward for Australia’s research and exploration effort in Antarctica.

The air service is expected to commence flights between Australia and Antarctica in early 2007.

“The Airbus will help secure Australia’s position as a world leader in Antarctic capabilities and research,” Senator Campbell said.

“It will modernise our support for Australia’s Antarctic programme and allow researchers to travel between the two continents much quicker and more safely.

“It will reduce the time it takes to travel from Australia to Wilkins runway in Antarctica from 10 days to four hours.

“At the moment, researchers, scientists, technicians and field staff spend their time couped up on a ship. The new Airbus will mean expeditioners can get there quickly and spend more time on the ice for research.”

Senator Campbell said ships would continue to be used for marine science, transporting some passengers and re-supplying stations.

“We estimate 10 to 20 flights of the Air Service will be conducted each summer once the system is fully operational,” Senator Campbell said.

“The intercontinental capability of the A319 will complement the current fleet of Antarctic-based helicopters and CASA 212s which now fly personnel to field locations and between Australia’s stations with Antarctica.

“The A319 is scheduled to make its delivery flight to Australia in late January 2007 with its inaugural flight to the new Wilkins runway expected in early February 2007. The air service is expected to be fully operational for the 2007-08 Antarctic season.”

The A319 will be leased and operated by Skytraders Pty Ltd of Sydney. The initial lease period for the Airbus A319 will be for five years beginning in late January 2007.

Construction of a snow-capped ice runway began in December 2005 and will continue during the 2006/07 summer season.

Media Contact: Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

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