How To Travel To The Falkland Islands By Air

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Summary

  • Flying to the Falkland Islands is more complicated than most destinations, but there are reliable connections from Chile or direct from the UK.
  • LATAM operates regular flights from Chile to the Falkland Islands, while the UK RAF charter service is available for civilians and military personnel.
  • Once in the Falkland Islands, air service is the main way to get around, operated by the Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) using Britten-Norman Islander aircraft.


The British Overseas Territory of the Falkland Islands is an amazing place to visit. It offers interesting local history, amazing wildlife viewing, and a true remote travel experience. It is quite rightly on many people’s travel wishlist. In normal times, there are regular scheduled flights. These can be expensive and hard to get in peak season, but with advance planning, a trip is certainly possible.


Flying to the Falkland Islands

Like most remote islands, getting to the Falkland Islands is more complicated than most destinations. The Falklands has two reliable connections, though – from Chile with LATAM or direct from the UK with a Royal Air Force (RAF) charter.

LATAM flights were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic (as was tourist entry to the Falkland Islands), but these were resumed in July 2022.

There have been other airlines, but not on regular service. Interestingly, Lufthansa operated two flights to Mount Pleasant in 2021, using the Airbus A350. These were supply flights for Antarctic operations. At just over 15 hours, they are the longest flights the airline has operated.

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All flights to the Falklands arrive and depart from Mount Pleasant Airport (MPN), a short distance from the capital city of Stanley. This is an active RAF base with shared runways and a separate civilian terminal building. There is a reliable bus charter service that meets all flights (but should be booked in advance).

Mount_Pleasant_Airport

Flights from South America with LATAM

Most tourists to the Falkland Islands arrive with LATAM, which has operated regular flights from Chile for many years. A once-weekly flight normally operates on a Saturday from Santiago, Chile (SCL) to Punta Arenas (PUQ) and on to Mount Pleasant Airport (MPN).

Also, once a month, the carrier makes a stop in the Argentinian city of Rio Gallegos. The flight from SCL to PUQ is treated as a normal domestic flight – passengers carrying on to the Falklands transit at PUQ and clear immigration there. After a two-year hiatus over the COVID pandemic, LATAM restarted the route in the summer of 2022.

A LATAM Airbus A320neo seen from above

Photo: Thiago B Trevisan | Shutterstock.

The flight is usually operated by a two-class Airbus A320 and operaes the return flight along the same route on the same day. When LATAM was a member of the oneworld alliance, it was possible to book flights as award flights through other airlines (including British Airways and American Airlines), and this could be very good value.

In 2019, LATAM added an additional weekly flight from São Paulo to Mount Pleasant. Likewise, this made a once-monthly stop in Argentina, this time in Cordoba. The much-anticipated flight was welcomed at the time for increasing passenger capacity and schedule and lowering fares, as well as offering a widebody Boeing 767-300 service. This was suspended during the pandemic – as of early 2024, it has still not been resumed.

Flying direct from the UK

The other option to get to the Falkland Islands is to fly on an RAF charter service from the UK. This is managed by the Air Force, but is open to civilians, with a quota of tickets available on each flight. It is also the main link for military personnel and families moving to and from the Falklands.

RAF A330 Voyager

The service is currently operated by AirTanker using one of its Voyager Airbus A330 aircraft. AirTanker is a UK leasing company (partially owned by Airbus and Rolls-Royce) which leases its A330s to the UK RAF for transport and aerial refueling.

Mount Pleasant Airport shutterstock_1181916160

Photo: Steve Allen | Shutterstock

The service to the Falklands operates twice per week year-round. It leaves from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, currently departing the UK on Monday and Thursday, and returning from Mount Pleasant on Tuesday and Friday. There is one stop en route at Ascension Island. Due to the fact this is a military base, some nationalities are restricted from using the service. With a price usually over £2000 ($2600), connections with LATAM often work out less expensive.

The Airlink has been operated on behalf of the RAF by other airlines in the past. This included UK airline Flyglobespan (in 2008 and 2009), and after it collapsed, Air Tahiti Nui and Titan Airways for a short time.

Getting around the Falklands

These two options will get you to the Falklands, but not around the islands. The Falklands is made up of a number of islands, with air service the main way to get around. Flights are operated by the Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS), using a fleet of Britten-Norman Islander aircraft.

Islander

These operate from the small Port Stanley Airport (not Mount Pleasant) to several rough strips on other islands. There is no fixed schedule. Instead, passengers register their needs in advance, and a daily schedule is then drawn up.

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The aircraft has to be booked for each flight, with each schedule released the day before.

Have you been to the Falkland Islands, using either LATAM or the UK RAF Airbridge? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

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