For years, Kenn Borek Air has supported expeditions to some of the most far flung destinations on the planet. In fact, the company's motto is "Anytime, Anywhere... Worldwide." They may have to amend that in light of recent news involving the airline, as ExWeb is reporting that the company has ceased operations in the Arctic, and will no longer support teams heading to the North Pole.
In a brief article posted to its website, ExWeb wrote the following:
"Rumour has been confirmed that Kenn Borek Air, operating from Canada, will not be flying any North Pole expeditions to their start points, or pick them up at the North Pole, or anywhere in between for emergency purposes, in the foreseeable future.
Explorersweb has asked Kenn Borek for a statement, and will publish it as it becomes available."At this time, that is all that is known about this story, but it still is a significant one. For years, Kenn Borek Air has been the logistical lifeline for expeditions heading to the North Pole from the Canadian side of the ice. The company flew skiers to their starting point, and often picked them up at the Pole as well. In recent years however, very few expeditions were able to reach 90ºN, and thus the pilots for Kenn Borek were forced to retrieve explorers out on the ice. With the changes that have been occurring in the Arctic over the past few years, that had to increasingly more challenging.
Until we get a statement from Kenn Borek, it is hard to say exactly why this decision was made, but I'm sure the unstable conditions, and added expenses, of operating in the Arctic played a major role. Weather conditions in that part of the world seem to be getting increasingly worse during the traditional Arctic expedition season, making it all the more difficult to operate as well. Safety for both the pilots, and the explorers on their way north, are obviously one of the big concerns.
It seems rather unlikely that another airline will step in to pick up the slack, which means those hoping to ski to the North Pole will have to do some from the European side of the ice. The Russian government handle a lot of the logistics for Arctic explorers on that side of the planet, although there are a few other alternatives as well. In recent years, going to the North Pole on skies has become one of the most difficult endeavors in exploration, and without Kenn Borek, it has just gotten a little more challenging.
Hopefully we'll get more information about this development in the near future.