Lufthansa Prepares for Longest Flight in Company’s History With Polar Explorers Onboard
On February 1st, 2021, the 13,700 km flight will be operated with an Airbus A350-900 between Hamburg and the Falkland Islands, on behalf of the Alfred Wegener Institute and the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven.
On Wednesday (January 20, 2021), Lufthansa announced that they are preparing for the longest flight in the airline’s history, which will be operated on behalf of the Wegener Institute and the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and marine research (AWI) in Bremerhaven, with polar explorers aboard. On February 1st, 2021, the 13,700 kilometer flight between Hamburg and Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands will be operated with an Airbus A350-900, the Lufthansa Group’s most sustainable aircraft. The approximately 15 hour charter flight (LH2574), will carry 92 passengers, half of whom are scientists and the other half sip crew for the upcoming expedition with the Polarstern research vessel. In Wednesday’s announcement, Fleet Captain and Project Manager Falkland, Thomas Jahn, said,
“We are pleased to be able to support a polar research expedition during these difficult times. Commitment to climate research is very important to us. We have been active in this field for more than 25 years and have equipped selected aircraft with measuring instruments. Since then, scientists all around the world have been using the data collected during the voyage to make climate models more precise and improve weather forecasts. Since the hygiene requirements for this flight are extremely high, Captain Rolf Uzat and his 17-member crew entered a 14-day quarantine last Saturday, the same time that the passengers did.”
Despite the crew restrictions for the flight, over 600 Lufthansa flight attendants applied to be part of the historic flight. The complex preparations for the pilots include additional training with special electronic maps, as well as managing the fuel available at the Mount Pleasant military base for the return flight. Currently stationed in Munich, the A350-900 is being prepared for the flight and once in Hamburg, will be loaded with additional cargo and baggage. The aircraft has been extensively disinfected and will remain sealed, except for the addition of catering and additional waste containers, which will be loaded prior to departure.
Lufthansa’s crew includes technicians and ground staff for on-site handling and maintenance in the Falklands. The crew will be required to quarantine upon arrival due to government regulations. The return flight (LH2575), will depart the Falklands for Munich on February 3rd and will be carrying the previous Polarstern crew, which set out from Bremerhaven on December 20, 2020 to resupply the Neumayer Station III in Antarctica. Commenting on the expedition, Dr. Hartmut Hellmer, a Physical Oceanographer at AWI and the scientific leader of the upcoming Polarstern voyage, said,
“We have been meticulously preparing for this expedition, which we have been planning for years and are now able to embark on despite the pandemic. For decades, we have been collecting fundamental data on ocean currents, sea ice and the carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean. As these long-term measurements form the basis for our understanding of polar processes and the urgently needed climate predictions, it is important that research in Antarctica continue in these difficult times. We cannot allow for large data gaps in climate research. The World Economic Forum's recently published World Risk Report continues to rank failure to combat climate change among the greatest threats to humanity. Our thanks also go to our colleagues in AWI logistics. Their comprehensive transport and hygiene concept allows us to explore Antarctica with an international science team - at a time when other major expeditions there had to be cancelled.”
Preparations for the special charter flight began during summer 2020 in coordination with the Alfred Wegener Institute. Due to the COVID-19 situation in South Africa, the usual route via Cape Town was not feasible, leaving only the Falkland Islands. Once the flight arrives in the Falklands, the scientific staff and ship crew members will continue their journey to Antarctica onboard the research vessel Polarstern.