Antarctic flight cancelled

04:13, Oct 15 2012

Insufficient bookings have resulted in an Australian company canning a proposed flight from Auckland to Antarctica next year.

Antarctica Sightseeing Flights was to have taken a Boeing 747-400 for a sightseeing flight over the ice in February but its managing director said today only a third of the about 300 seats on the flight had been sold. 

The flight was to have been the first sightseeing flight to leave New Zealand for Antarctica since the Erebus disaster 33 years ago. The 12-hour charter flight, operated by Qantas, would have seen passengers taken down to 10,000 feet with the plane slowing as it reached the ice to give a better view. 

Antarctica Sightseeing Flights managing director Phil Asker said less than 100 passengers had booked on the Auckland service. Seat prices started at $1600.

"We are very disappointed that our Auckland flight has not attracted the level of interest we anticipated," he said. 

"We know from our research that there is strong Kiwi interest in Antarctica sightseeing flights, but with only one third of the seats sold so far, it would be uneconomical for us to proceed."

Asker said the five flights scheduled from Australia were selling well, particularly in Perth, where one flight had sold out and a second had been scheduled. The company has flown from Australia for 18 years.

Asker said the company would provide full refunds to those passengers who booked to travel on the Auckland service, and offer a discount of AUD $250 off the price of any Antarctica sightseeing flight departing from Australia. 

"We regret having to cancel this service, and apologise to those who have been disappointed or inconvenienced by our decision," he said.

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