Weather window opens for Wilkins ice runway

view of ice runway through airplane window
The runway at Wilkins Aerodrome from the window of an A319 (Photo: Nisha Harris)
snow blower with plume of snowWilkins operations centre and passenger reception buildingPassengers boarding gangway of aircraft on ice runwaylarge transport plane on ice runway

Australia’s Antarctic ice runway at Wilkins Aerodrome will re-open for flights after its closure due to warm temperatures.

Flights to the ice runway will resume after ice temperatures dropped below the threshold temperature of minus 5 degrees Celsius.

The forecast for the end of this week and the weekend look encouraging for a number of return flights from Hobart to Wilkins of 6900 kilometres.

During the weather window over three consecutive days, a RAAF C17-A Globemaster will bring 24 expeditioners home, including AAD Director Kim Ellis, whose return to Australia has been delayed by several weeks.

This will be followed by a Skytraders Airbus A319, then another C17-A to deliver heavy equipment and critical supplies for Casey research station, and a proof-of-concept flight for a modified C130J Hercules.

Wilkins usually closes for 4–6 weeks at the height of summer, but this season it closed a week earlier than normal and remained shut for 10 weeks.

Wilkins Aerodrome is located on a glacier, 70km inland from Australia’s Casey research station in east Antarctica.

Updated flight schedules are available on the AAD website.