Wilkins Runway Delayed Opening

Flights to Australia’s Antarctic ice runway have been postponed or cancelled due to warmer than usual temperatures.

Wilkins Aerodrome is located on a glacier, 70km inland from Australia’s Casey research station.

Flights to the runway were due to resume on the 5th of February, but ice temperatures need to be below minus 5 degrees Celsius for planes to land and current ice temperatures are around minus 3.6.

There is also low cloud, high winds and snow showers associated with the warmer conditions preventing the team at Wilkins from preparing the runway.

One Airbus A319 flight has been cancelled and two other flights, an A319 and Globemaster C-17A flight, have been postponed.

Wilkins usually closes for 4-6 weeks at the height of summer, but this season it was closed a week earlier than normal and has now been shut for 9 weeks.

Based on current weather forecasts the first possible flight will be on Sunday.

Aerial view of ice runway, buildings and large aircraft on ground in the expanse of the ice sheet
Aerial view of Wilkins Aerodrome with Airbus A319 parked on the runway (Photo: Chris Crerar)

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