Air link helps Antarctic research take flight

Australia has committed $46.3 million over four years to develop an Australia-Antarctic intercontinental air link.

Announcing the funding in the recent Federal Budget, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said this was one of the biggest boosts to the Australian Antarctic programme since it began in the late 1940s.

The air link will operate between Hobart in Tasmania and a glacial ice runway to be constructed near Casey Station in the Australian Antarctic Territory. It is proposed to use a long range jet aircraft, which will also have the capability to help protect Australia’s national interest through surveillance of our Southern Ocean fisheries.

Feasibility studies, including runway construction trials, have already been completed. Trial flights are scheduled to start in 2006–07.