The highly successful Australia-Antarctica Airlink will continue thanks to a $11.7 million commitment in the 2010–2011 Budget.

“The groundbreaking Airlink project provides speedy transport for scientists, expeditioners and others participating in the Australian Antarctic program from Hobart to Antarctica’s Casey Station. It is an important part of Australia’s leadership in the region,” Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett said.

“The Australia-Antarctica Airlink has been the single biggest boost to Australia’s Antarctic program since the program’s inception in the late 1940s,” Mr Garrett said.

“Since it began in 2008, the importance of the Airlink program has been acknowledged by the international Antarctic community and has made an invaluable contribution to the advancement of collective interests in the Antarctic.”

The $11.7 million commitment will ensure the Airlink’s continued operation.

“The Airlink is one of several logistical elements that support the Australian Antarctic Program and is critical to Australia’s role in protecting Antarctica,” Mr Garrett said.

The Antarctic support industry, including the Airlink program, is one of the largest industries in Tasmania, contributing around $154.0 million annually to its economy.