A Chinese business jet landed safely at the Wolfs Fang Airport in Antarctica on Saturday night, the first time a Chinese private jet operator has operated a flight to the southernmost continent.
The aircraft, with 22 Chinese passengers onboard, flew from Hong Kong to Cape Town International Airport, and then flew to Antarctica. Next, the team will fly around five to six hours to the South Pole, and it will become the first self-organized Chinese scientific research team.
The plane, operated by Hainan Airlines, was a Deer Jet Gulfstream G650 aircraft. Deer Jet said it had planned the flight for a year, and conducted hundreds of risk tests, flight routes, flight support and emergency plans to ensure the flight could be performed safely.
Beijing-based Deer Jet, a subsidiary of Hainan Airlines, said the successful landing of the jet in Antarctica signals that the business jet sector in China has entered the market in Antarctica, and it will provide opportunities for business and leisure travelers who would like to travel to the continent.
Wang Wen, a professor from Renmin University of China, who was on the flight, said the launching of a Chinese commercial flight to Antarctica will arouse the interest of Chinese tourists.
"It will also encourage more Chinese consumers to pay attention to Antarctica, in addition to the responsibilities that China should take in the continent," he said.
Ctrip.com, China's largest online travel agency, said it had received an unusually large number of inquiries for its Antarctica tours this year and estimated that more than 1,000 Chinese tourists would be staying in Antarctica during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday in February.
Most trips to Antarctica cost more than 100,000 yuan ($15,152). The best season to visit the continent is usually between December and February, as it is the summer time there.
To cater to this demand, Beijing Caissa International Travel Service Co, a company in which HNA Group holds around half of the shares, said it plans to officially launch travel products to the South Pole next year.