Which Airports Have Flights From All 6 Habitable Continents?

Earlier this month, Qantas operated an ultra-long-haul repatriation flight from Buenos Aires to Darwin. The flight was one of the hundreds of charter and repatriation flights Qantas has operated on behalf of the Australian Government. In operating the flight from South America, Darwin joined a small group of airports that have hosted nonstop flights from all six habitable continents.

Without much surprise, airports in the Middle East appear on the list more than airports from other parts of the world. Photo: Dubai Airports

What are the six habitable continents?

Before we address the main question of the day, we should first lay down some definitions and ground rules.

Firstly, the six habitable continents are North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. The one continent not considered habitable is Antarctica (even if it does host a contingent of researchers year-round).

The list in itself can be controversial, depending on your interpretation of what constitutes a continent (geologists and sociologists may have differing views). However, since this is the most widely adopted way of categorizing large parts of the world, this is what we will stick with.

Secondly, we will need to make the distinction between currently flying to all six habitable continents versus having had flights to all the continents regardless of time.

London Heathrow
London Heathrow has had flights to all six habitable continents but lacks a regular service to Oceania…for now. Photo: Heathrow Airport Limited

What parts of the world can we rule out?

Constantly in flux, especially during the global health crisis, it could be challenging to pin down the airports operating regular commercial flights to the six continents. However, we can rule out many airports just because of their geographic position in the world.

Airports in Asia (excluding the Middle East) don’t operate flights to South America due to the distance. The closest to this is Aeromexico operating a flight to Tokyo, although its hub and home country are technically part of North America. Historically, some airlines have operated flights from Japan to Brazil via a stop in the United States.

Larger airports in the southeastern portion of Oceania (mainly consisting of Australia and New Zealand) may have had special repatriation flights or maintenance flights to Europe but lack regular nonstop service. As mentioned in this article’s introduction, the recent arrival of QF14 in Darwin saw it join a small club of airports that have hosted nonstop flights from all six settled continents.

An amazing view of Antarctica from the cockpit.

— Qantas (@Qantas) October 7, 2021

irports operating regular services

To find airports operating regular services to all six habitable continents, we only have to look at the Middle East, which has a favorable geographic position to suit the range of modern-day airliners operating with profitable payloads.

Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways operate regular passenger services through their respective hubs in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Doha. While destinations in Africa, Asia, and North America aren’t a problem, the airlines also manage to reach as far (south)west as Sao Paolo in Brazil and as far east as Auckland in New Zealand.

Emirates, Beirut, Luggage Allowance
Emirates is one airline that operates to all six habitable continents. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

One-offs and historical services

Creating an exhaustive list of airports that are part of the “six continent club” would take quite some time, especially when considering decades of long-distance flight combined with numerous special repatriation flights, VIP flights, and cargo flights.

According to a post on an Infinite Flight thread, the following airports have joined the six continent club due to a combination of regular and special flights:

London Heathrow (LHR)Johannesburg (JNB)Doha (DOH)Dubai (DXB)Chicago (ORD)Houston (IAH)Newark (EWR)

Of course, Darwin and its recent repatriation flight from South America now joins this list, as well as Istanbul Airport, which saw a repatriation flight to Darwin. Sydney also joins the list with Qantas having operated special flights to Europe and hosting regular flights to South America in the past.

It’s a fairly interesting topic, and certainly a list that will keep changing and growing as more special and ultra-long-range flights take place in the years to come. Did we miss any airports? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Did you miss our previous article…


Israeli Airline Takeover: El Al Seeks To Buy Competitor Arkia

Israeli flag carrier El Al is reportedly in the process of acquiring fellow Israeli airline Arkia. First reported by Israeli media on Monday, this consolidation of the country’s aviation industry would leave just Israir as the only other operator.

El Al is Israel’s largest carrier. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Purchasing Arkia

While not much news has yet to come out about this potential purchase, it would represent a massive shift in the Israeli aviation sector. Indeed, it would see the largest carrier in the country absorb the second-largest.

Reporting by The Jerusalem Post indicates that El Al is in the preliminary stages of this acquisition and emphasizes that there is no guarantee that this deal will go through.

Simple Flying reached out to El Al for comment but did not receive a response from the carrier at the time of publication.

A larger El Al and a consolidated Israeli aviation market might allow El Al to better compete against its regional and foreign rivals. Photo: MathKnight via Wikimedia Commons 

What does El Al have to gain?

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, El Al’s possible absorption of Arkia is undoubtedly on the smaller side, immensely eclipsed by the recent Korean Air takeover of Asiana.

However, El Al would gain some next-generation long-range narrowbodies and orders for new Airbus widebodies, making it a fairly mixed fleet.

In fact, Arkia was the recipient of the first-ever A321LR and has two of these in its fleet at the moment. These are relatively new at just under three years old. While the airline had ordered four, data indicates that Arkia has just one more Airbus A321LR on the way, hinting at an order cancelation. Arkia also has a small fleet of Embraer ERJ-195s, which are an average of 7.6 years. The Israeli airline has two A330-900neo aircraft on order, with options for another two.

In addition to its aircraft, El Al could gain airport slots and rights at various airports. As of this week, indicates these are the destinations that Arkia is operating to:

Amsterdam (Netherlands)Barcelona (Spain)Batumi (Georgia)Budapest (Hungary)Dubai (UAE)Larnaca (Cyprus)Prague (Czech Republic)Rome (Italy)
Arkia was the first-ever operator for the Airbus A321LR – a long-range derivative of the A321neo. Photo: Airbus

Stay informed:Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Regulatory approval?

We’re not sure exactly where El Al is in the process of its acquisition. However, we can imagine that the deal will need to receive regulatory approval, as is quite common in many countries.

In the case of El Al and Arkia, permission is likely required by the Israel Competition Authority. On its website, the organization states that the Competition Authority and its leadership “are responsible for maintaining and promoting competition in the Israeli economy.”

This spirit of competition is something valued by the government, which, in 2013, enacted the “Law for Promotion of Competition and Reduction of Concentration.” Explaining its principles on competition and concentration, a government document notes that “a high level of concentration of the economy leads to market distortions and failures, which undermine economic growth and the ability of the laws of free economy to advance efficiency and consumer welfare.”

With a potential further concentration of Israel’s airline industry, we will have to wait and see if government regulators see this as a move away from healthy competition. At the same time, this merger could be seen as a way for Israeli airlines to better compete with foreign rivals- which undoubtedly have a sizeable share of the market when it comes to travel to and from the country.

What do you think of this potential acquisition? Are you for or against it? Let us know in the comments.


Air New Zealand To Resume Los Angeles – Sydney Flights

Air New Zealand will resume its popular one-stop flight from Sydney to Los Angeles in November. The flight, which operates via Auckland, restarts on November 5. Air New Zealand calls it a major step to re-opening to the world.

Air New Zealand is resuming its one-stop Sydney-Los Angeles flights in November. Photo: Getty Images

Flights ramp up to four times a week in December

While New Zealand remains closed to most incoming passengers, fully vaccinated Australians will be free to enter and leave the United States and Australia by November, and Air New Zealand’s rebooted flights tap into this market.

“While there hasn’t been a day we didn’t fly, most of that flying has been keeping cargo moving around the world, so it’s incredibly exciting for us to welcome more customers back onboard,” Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said.

“We haven’t been sitting on our hands over the last 20 months and have been taking the time to ensure that as international travel ramps back up, we are better than ever. We can’t wait to roll out the red carpet for our customers come 5 November and get back to what we do best – flying!”

Warming up with just one flight a week over November, departures will increase to four times a week in December.

Initially, NZ0752 will push back from Sydney at 14:45 every Friday in November. The Boeing 78709 Dreamliner takes three hours to jet over to Auckland, landing at 19:45.

After a three-hour layover, NZ0006 departs Auckland at 22:45 and lands in Los Angeles at 14:45 on the same day after 12 hours in the air.


Transiting allowed at Auckland International

Transiting is allowed at Auckland International Airport. However, passengers must stay in the transit area of the airport or onboard the plane. The airport says toilets, a water fountain, plenty of seating, charging stations, a family room, and vending machines with food and hot and cold drinks are available in the transit area.

From December 1, Air New Zealand will operate its service from Sydney to Los Angeles on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

In the opposite direction, Air New Zealand’s online booking engine has flights operating from Los Angles to Sydney twice a week across November.

Except for Friday, November 12, Air New Zealand’s Dreamliner will push back from Los Angeles at 22:50 every Wednesday and Friday. NZ0005 takes just under 13 hours to reach Auckland, landing there at 07:45 two days later. After a four-hour and 15 minute transit in Auckland, NZ0753 heads across to Sydney at 12:00, touching down at 13:35.

Currently, Sydney is the only Australian international airport that will allow fully vaccinated travelers to skip the quarantine process in November.

Don’t panic, there is a bar in the designated transit area (shown) at Auckland Airport. Source: Auckland International Airport

Some further amendments to Air New Zealand’s international schedules

From December 1, Air New Zealand flights to Sydney will depart Los Angeles every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Air New Zealand notes the United States will require incoming passengers to be fully vaccinated from November 8.

Elsewhere across Air New Zealand’s international network, the airline says they’ve made some adjustments between the period December 17, 2021, and March 26, 2022.

The airline has canceled any planned flights between Auckland and Vancouver and is redirecting booked passengers via Los Angeles. Air New Zealand will also operate one return flight to Hong Kong each week over this three-month period and four return flights to Taipei.

Would you use the resuming Air New Zealand one-stop service between Australia and the US? Post a comment and let us know.

Did you miss our previous article…


Jordan To Get A New Airline Based In Aqaba

Eyeing a rebound in the tourism and travel industry, Saudi and Jordanian investors are looking to seize the opportunity by starting a new airline. This private sector-owned carrier will be based in Aqaba and is aptly named Fly Aqaba. At this point, it is unknown when the airline will begin its operations.

The airline will begin with two aircraft- type currently unknown. Photo: via Wikimedia Commons 

Fly Aqaba

The Jordan Times reported on October 17th that the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and the Fly Aqaba Company had signed a $20 million investment agreement to establish an airline called Fly Aqaba. This privately-owned carrier will be funded by Saudi-Jordanian investments and will be based out of Aqaba Airport, which is also known as King Hussein International Airport.

At this stage, we only have the vaguest of details on where and what this new startup will be flying. According to ASEZA President Nayef Bakhit, the company will operate flights to the Jordanian capital of Amman, as well as countries in Europe, the Arabian/Persian Gulf, and others in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the airline will only fly two aircraft in its first stage of operations. The type of aircraft that will be used remains undisclosed.

Bakhit noted that the airline’s goal is to facilitate tourist access to the “Golden Triangle” of Jordan. This triangle consists of the popular destinations of Aqaba, Petra, and Wadi Rum. The President of ASEZA emphasizes that the airline will be based out of King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba and facilitate connections to local, regional and international destinations (easyJet is already flying from Manchester to Aqaba). He hopes that its operations will be a boost to Aqaba and Jordan’s tourism industry with the provision of competitive airfares.

Aqaba is a coastal city in the south of Jordan known for its diving and watersports. Photo: Tourism JordanStay informed:Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Not a new idea

The airline is currently waiting for all of the necessary licenses required from the Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission. However, ‘Fly Aqaba’ is far from a new idea. Indeed, two separate sources note that this airline has been in the works for at least three years.

The website Airline History notes that the carrier had planned to launch sometime in 2019, while a report from November 2018 by ch-aviation states that ASEZA had hoped to acquire the Air Operators Certificate and Operators License of Royal Wings (a charter subsidiary of Royal Jordanian) for Fly Aqaba. The source also states that, at the time, this transaction was valued JOD785,000 dinar, or $1.1 million.

Jordan-Israel-Egypt Airports
Located at the southernmost point of Jordan, Aqaba Airport (AQJ) offers access to the Red Sea and is somewhat close to both Wadi Rum and Petra. Photo:

With pent-up travel demand experienced in other parts of the world already, it might be a good time to start an airline. Indeed, travelers are increasingly looking for more direct flights and avoiding connections. Additionally, with so many wet lease operators and/or used aircraft in the market, it may not be too difficult for the carrier to secure its initial fleet.

At the same time, its operations to Europe will already be met with stiff competition from the likes of easyJet and Wizz Air, who already serve Aqaba with connections to Budapest, Rome, Vienna, and Manchester.

What do you think of the Fly Aqaba? Where might it fly to? Let us know in the comments.

Did you miss our previous article…