Challenging weather conditions at Australia’s Wilkins Aerodrome, in East Antarctica, have delayed the first three flights of the season for the Australian Antarctic Program.

The flights, which were due to begin on 28 October, will each be delayed by 10 days.

General Manager Operations and Safety, Mr Charlton Clark, said it was not unusual to have delays to early season start-up work. However, a series of closely spaced blizzards at Casey research station, and at the aerodrome – 70 kilometres southeast of the station – has put the team behind schedule in preparing the three kilometre-long ice runway.

“A series of blizzards, some lasting days and including wind gusts over 248 kilometres per hour, have made it difficult for the small team, working in freezing temperatures, to set up the aerodrome infrastructure and prepare the blue ice runway,” he said.

“However a forecast improvement in weather conditions should enable to team to complete the work over the coming weeks.

Flights schedules from late November are unaffected.

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