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AIRLANDER: Swedish luxury airship ready for journeys to the North Pole in 2023

AIRLANDER: Swedish luxury airship ready for journeys to the North Pole in 2023

Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd and Design Q

SANTA’S COMING TO TOWN. . .IN A LUXURY AIRSHIP? We have all heard about Arctic cruise ships and tourist expeditions to the unwelcoming, freezing destinations in the North. What if we told you that there’s an ambitious venture that will take you to the North Pole . . . in a luxury airship? This is what Carl-Oscar and Carl-Franz Lawaczeck from Sweden have in mind. The first departure is set to take place in 2023 but that is not the end of their ideas as they see the next step for airships to be the key to greener modes of transport, both for transport itself and for passengers. . .

Airships, airships, airships . . . what really happened to them? The airships had their heyday until the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 but since then, many attempts have been made to revive these giants of the air but with no names sticking to the mind in their particular field like Tesla and Apple in others. But a Swedish company may become the memorable name if they realize this exciting project. Are you ready?

If you don’t want the hassle, tiredness and preparation, why go and see the North Pole on foot when you can see it from above on a luxury airship? Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? Well, here’s your chance! On Monday, the tickets  are released for this unusual kind of travel. The idea is that you would float slowly from the Svalbard archipelago in Norway to the North Pole in an airship decorated with all possible luxury. A kind of polar expedition, but in the air. Just like the adventures of space tourism from Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, Swedish OceanSky Cruises is aiming to get the attention of the really rich, billionaires, where the ticket price of 600,000 SEK (around $64 000) for a cabin for two is not expected to affect your life financially. And demand is already there for the Airlander 10 (as the model is called), so how does the business model look in this case?

Press: Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd and Design Q

But even though it may sound unique with airship voyages, Oceansky is not alone in trying to build luxury tourism around it. Established Cookson Adventures plans to offer trips with their own Airlander10. Both Oceansky and Cookson and are dependent on the vessel’s manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles to produce an approved version of the airship. While it may seem that the commercial aspect has to do with cutting costs and technology, it is quite different: the challenge of achieving a breakthrough for the airships is not about technology, says Carl-Oscar Lawaczeck, but about finding a business model where it pays to invest around half a billion kronor to build it.

The first sixteen passengers will leave Longyearbyen in 2023, says Carl-Oscar Lawaczeck who founded OceanSky together with his father Carl-Franz Lawaczeck. Their passion in this field seems to run in the family. Both father and son have a solid background in the aviation industry. Carl-Oscar as pilot in both air freight and private jet as well as in passenger airline but also with experience from development on the Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, while his father built companies in air transport and had leading positions in the industry during the almost 40 years he spent there. Their journey with OceanSky started eight years ago and, back then it was not luxury trips that were in focus but something quite different.

“2011, we sat down, dad and me, and began to think about how all problems for air freight could be solved. The first challenge was about goods not going to an airport but often to an inaccessible final destination. Another challenge was that the goods are often too large to fit in an aircraft and a third is the dependence on fossil fuels.”

And on the question of why they choose to send millionaires to the North Pole, Carl-Oscar Lawaczeck said that this was for the unique that one can offer.

– The North Pole is a place where you normally cannot get around. Therefore, we chose it – it shows all the forces of the airship. The first is that with an airship you can land anywhere, you do not need any infrastructure. This can neither offer any boat or aircraft. And compared to the helicopter you have extreme reach – and really a lot of space.

Learning from history is what OceanSky has sought to do, as well. They have looked back on previous attempts and journeys made through time. Take the example of Swedish balloonist Salomon August Andrée (even though he has a French-sounding name, he too was Swedish) attempted in 1897, a journey that ended in a crash and where all three crew members died. This is what they had to say in response to this: [Source: NyTeknik]

– Andrée’s air travel was quite amateurish, he didn’t even test his balloon. He thought it would be a fun weekend break. This project has been working on this since 2010. It has test flights, found a business model. Now we have to get approved by ship, pilot and organization – so it is a completely different level, said Carl-Oscar Lawaczeck to Ny Teknik last year.

Space tourism or “North Pole tourism”? If you don’t mind spending money for your experiences, which one will you choose? 2023 is the year when the stars and the ice is a stepping stone to something bigger. OceanSky thinks big, and if their business model can handle it, it’ll help them stay afloat and not become a financial Hindenburg.

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