This will shave six hours off a flight from London to Fiji, which had to either stop in Los Angeles or Seoul en-route.
There’s a good side and a bad side to this.
The good side: Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people traveling the Virgin Air (and other airlines) great circle route from London to Hawaii or Fiji will be able to see that the North polar ice cap has not melted away as some
would believe have forecast.
The bad side: Sir Richard Branson, who has paired up with Al Gore in the past as a global eco champion, may take a hit from having planes spew jet exhaust in what some people call a highly sensitive region. I wonder if an EIR had to be filed for stratospheric effects? From The Independent:
Airlines cleared to use Santa’s short-cut
New destinations and shorter journey times on way after North Pole route is approved for passenger jets.
Hard-pressed airlines have been handed the perfect Christmas present: permission to fly twin-jet aircraft over the North Pole, saving millions on fuel costs, opening up new destinations and reducing damage to the environment.
Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, told The Independent: “This new development really does open up a whole new world and will allow us to take our Dreamliners to more exciting and exotic places. Our new fleet of 787s could well be flying to Honolulu or even Fiji one day.” Fiji straddles the 180-degree line of latitude, and the most direct track passes directly over the North Pole – though because of the distance, over 10,000 miles, the payload would need to be restricted. The new policy could also make no-non-stop routes to Tahiti in the South Pacific and Anchorage in Alaska viable.
And Sir Richard Branson looked forward to new sightseeing opportunities: “Apart from the stunning destinations on arrival, the Arctic scenery will be just amazing on the way.”
I look forward to all those tourist photos and video from the window seats saying;
“Gosh, look at all that ice, I thought the North Pole had melted according to the Guardian!”
Full story at The Independent
h/t to Dr. Ryan Maue
Addendum: Since some people haven’t clicked through the link to the article, they get the mistaken impression this is “new”. It’s only new for two engine jets, of which Branson has many. Four engine jets have been making great circle routes for years but two engine jets have been limited by ETOP rules related to an engine failing and distance to nearest airport. – Anthony