3 Aug 2010

Second remembrance flight to Erebus planned

10:09 pm on 3 August 2010

The Government and Air New Zealand have announced a second remembrance flight to Antarctica will take place for family members of the victims of the 1979 Erebus disaster.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force will fly up to 80 family representatives to Scott Base for several hours this summer.

Representatives from six families were chosen by ballot to travel to Antarctica late last year to mark the 30th anniversary of the disaster and to visit the site where 257 people died after an Air New Zealand plane flew into Mt Erebus.

Prime Minister John Key says he is considering joining the flight and is confident it will accommodate family representatives who have expressed a desire to travel to the crash area.

Jackie Nankervis, who lost two family members in the disaster, says it took an hour for her to stop shaking after hearing that a second remembrance flight is planned.

Ms Nankervis, whose father and uncle were killed in the crash, says that she has always wanted to see the site of her father's death and that it is wonderful that another chance has been provided.

If her family is unlucky in the ballot, Ms Nankervis says she would still consider taking a commercial flight over Antarctica.

Flagpole ceremony

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says the decision for a second flight is due to feedback from families who were not chosen to attend last year's commemorations.

Mr McCully says co-operation from Air New Zealand and the RNZAF has made the day trip possible and it is hoped this will offer remaining family members a chance to achieve a degree of closure.

As the crash site is difficult to get to a remembrance ceremony will take place at the Scott Base flagpole, he says.

Air New Zealand says it has been determined to ensure that others were allowed the same opportunity to visit Antarctica as those who went on the first trip.