Ushuaia’s waterfront carries a sign declaring ‘Fin del Mundo’ (End of the World). Known as the world’s southernmost city, Argentina’s Ushuaia is a staging post for the vast majority of Antarctic tourists.

It is aviation connectivity that brings this vital trade to Ushuaia. The city’s 60,000-strong community benefits from visitors to shops, restaurants, and hotels, providing the income and jobs that helps Ushuaia to thrive. 

Air transport’s importance can be seen in the license application of Pacific Ocean, a small private airline managed by the London Supply Group that wants to begin commercial service with Ushuaia as its base.

In fact, aviation has become a priority for Argentina in general. The country is beginning to upgrade infrastructure that is badly in need of modernization. And Transport Minister Guillermo Dietrich has declared that there “are many airlines interested” in flying in Argentina.

Ushuaia’s reliance on aviation and Antarctic tourism is also a reminder of how air connectivity brings greater understanding and international cooperation.

Antarctica — one of the most desolate regions on Earth — is just 600 or so miles away. The continent has a unique environment and plays a prominent role in global climate change debate. Lars-Eric Lindblad, who led what is considered to be the first educational cruise to the region in 1966, noted: “You can’t protect what you don’t know.” Aviation is fundamental to making that knowledge accessible.

Antarctica is recognized as a global commons along with the atmosphere, the high seas, and outer space. 

These are all areas that lie outside the  political reach of any one State and are guided by the principle of the common heritage of humankind. 

The continent is governed by the Antarctic Treaty System, a labyrinthine arrangement developed to smooth relations between those countries with interests and territorial claims in the region. Some 29 states are consultative parties to the treaty.

Antarctica could therefore become a fiercely contested region or stand as an example of the collaboration and collective understanding that international visits — made possible by air travel — will inevitably generate.