11 Nov 2022 15:11

New Russian runway in Antarctica starts receiving aircraft

ST. PETERSBURG. Nov 11 (Interfax) - A snow-and-ice runway for heavy aircraft at the Progress station in Antarctica has been named Zenit after the St. Petersburg football club, the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute said on Telegram.

The runway began working in November, the institute said.

An Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft of Volga-Dnepr Airlines performed the first flight from Cape Town to the Progress station on November 7. "The plane flew over 5,300 kilometers in 6.5 hours and successfully landed in limited visibility thanks to the professionalism of its pilots," it said.

The plane airlifted 82 passengers and over 6.5 tonnes of cargo for building a new winter compound at the Vostok station.

Zapsibgaszprom built the runway with a length of 3,000 meters and a width of 100 meters. The runway can receive heavy aircraft, such as Il-76, as well as small planes.

Four flights between Cape Town and Progress are planned for this season to transport builders of the new winter compound at Vostok, the press service said.

A runway for small aircraft, which perform shuttle flights between research stations and deliver light cargo and seasonal expeditions, opened at Progress in 2012.

Besides the Progress runway, there is an international ice runway at the Novolazarevskaya station in Antarctica. The seasonal runway started working on October 26. It receives international flights, which transport Russian and foreign seasonal crews.

Progress is the youngest Russian research station in Antarctica, which was founded on April 1, 1988. It is located on the eastern bank of Prydz Bay in the Larsemann Hills oasis in Princess Elisabeth Land. According to the institute's website, Progress is the capital of the Russian Antarctic expedition and an intracontinental logistic base.

Novolazarevskaya is a Russian Antarctic station founded on January 18, 1961. It is located in the Schirmacher Oasis in Dronning Maud Land, about 80 kilometers from the Lazarev Sea. The station is the center of the DROMLAN international corporate aviation program of 11 countries, among them Russia. The runway built southwest of the station is one of the largest transport hubs in Antarctica.