Until today, anybody flying from Australia to South America had to take various inconvenient connecting flights.
Now, the new low-cost airline Norwegian Air Argentina has been given approval to fly from Buenos Aires direct to Perth. Other airlines, China Southern, Singapore Airlines and Qantas, have also received approval for similar direct flights.
These flights are excitingly described as trans-polar. In fact, the optimum route does not cross directly over the South Pole. Instead, the flights would go around Antarctica taking advantage of the powerful winds that constantly circle the continent in an easterly direction. From Argentina to Australia the route would fly well south of Cape Town. From Australia to Argentina the route would continue eastwards past New Zealand.
Long distance aircraft such as the Airbus A350, Boeing 787, Boeing 777 have the endurance for the 15 hours flight from Perth to Buenos Aires. It follows that Perth, as an essential refuelling stopover, stands to benefit from the increased tourism potential.
The Government of Western Australia has a “WA Asian Engagement Strategy”. Last week, officials from the Argentine Chamber of Commerce met with WA tourism industry representatives in Perth.
Diego Berazategui, Executive Director of the Australian outreach office of the Argentine Chamber of Commerce said “The study shows that a trans-polar flight between Buenos Aires and Perth would take less than 15 hours and would position Perth as a great midpoint destination for international travellers between Asia and Latin America. This could have a major impact on the number of people visiting Perth and should be considered an important part of the WA Asian Engagement Strategy".
Attending the meeting, Hugo Gobbi, Argentina’s Ambassador to Australia said this trans-polar direct route “would be a real game changer for both Argentina and Australia”.
Norwegian has also applied for approval to fly to Singapore. Already, it flies to 22 destinations using Boeing 787s, including, for example, one-way tickets Dublin to New York for $120. The airline is expanding its global reach and has another 18 Boeing 787s on order.