New Russian Airfield In Antarctica Receives First International Flight

Landing at the airfield of the “Progress” station. Photo: AARI
Landing at the airfield of the “Progress” station. Photo: AARI

Zenit Airfield at the Russian Antarctic station “Progress” has received its first international flight. Scientists and polar explorers from Russia, India, China and South Africa arrived on board the IL-76VD-90 from Cape Town to Antarctica. The landing of the airliner was provided by the specialists of the Russian Antarctic Expedition of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

The IL-76 covered a distance of 5,300 km in 6.5 hours. On board the “Volga-Dnepr” company aircraft, not only 42 passengers were delivered to Antarctica, but also cargo for Russian and Indian stations.

“Zenit Aviation Complex can become an important link for the development of international cooperation and international air transportation. Its location is an important logistics center not only for Russia, but also for other countries. In particular, research stations of India, China, and Australia are located not far from our runway. Large volumes of cargo are also sent from here to the Russian intercontinental ‘Vostok’ station and the Chinese ‘Kunlun’ and ‘Taishan’ stations. The development of the new air route can significantly expand the logistics capabilities of the expeditionary programs of these states and increase the number of scientific research in this area," said Aleksandr Makarov, director of AARI.

The creation of the new runway at the “Progress” station was carried out by the AARI scientists and specialists from the company “Zapsibgazprom”. Its length is 3,000 m, width – 100 m. The airfield is capable of receiving heavy airliners with wheeled landing gear of the IL-76 type, as well as small aircraft.

In the 2023-2024 season, six flights of IL-76 aircraft are planned to deliver polar explorers from different countries and the necessary cargo.

The former runway at the “Progress” station has been in operation since 2012. It was suitable for small aircraft and providing flights between stations, delivery of small cargo and participants in seasonal work.