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Reaching for the stars: Comet ISON observation flight with airberlin


When Comet ISON streaks across the skies of Central Europe on 8th December 2013, a group of amateur astronomers will take off on a very special observation flight as dawn breaks. The flight is due to last around two hours and should provide extremely clear views of the comet. Organised by charter company Air Partner and specialist tour operator Eclipse-Reisen (Eclipse Travel) from Bonn, the flight is scheduled to take off at 5.15 am from Cologne/Bonn Airport to give guests on board the airberlin Boeing 737-800 the best views of the celestial event. Two experienced sky photographers from the Volkssternwarte observatory in Bonn will be present and use special equipment to take pictures of the comet as a memento of this special flight for all the flight guests.

“Comet ISON will reach its peak brightness during the observation flight. It will be much clearer at an altitude of around 41,000 feet than it will be on the earth’s surface. This is mainly due to the air transparency at that altitude, which is not affected by haze and dust,” explains Angela Weidenbach from Eclipse-Reisen. The flight will head northwest from Cologne/Bonn Airport across Belgium and the Netherlands. Tickets for the special flight are available for 379 euros per person at

Karsten von dem Hagen, Head of Sales for Special Flights at airberlin, has previously arranged countless special flights for partner companies. In March of this year, however, he organised the first comet observation flight in conjunction with Eclipse-Reisen and Air Partner. “The market demand for special flights is generally very good. Of course we are especially delighted if a special flight proves so successful that we end up offering a second one within a year, as happened with the comet flight,” said von dem Hagen.

On 1st March 2014 the cooperation partners Air Partner and Eclipse-Reisen will set off on another celestial flight in an airberlin Boeing 737-700, this time on a five-hour trip towards Iceland to view the Northern Lights. Tickets for this special flight are also available at for 469 euros per person. is a project that was initiated in May 2000 by employees of the travel agency Reisebüro in der Südstadt GmbH in Bonn to create a central point of contact providing comprehensive information on all upcoming solar eclipses, and also as a platform for the wide range of travel options on offer. Many trips to view solar eclipses are based solely on land or sea. From the outset, an important aspect of this project was to offer customers suitable flights at as low a cost as possible.

Air Partner plc was established in 1961 and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. It is one of the world’s largest suppliers of high-quality private and business jets and aircraft of all sizes for commercial passenger and freight transport. The company has 20 branches in 16 countries in Europe, North America and the Middle East. Its team of aviation professionals organises flights 24/7 for ad-hoc tourist and charter groups, incentive trips, and travel to events and congresses.It also provides transport for sports teams, freight and rescue transport services, and comfortable jets for private and business travel. Since 2004 Air Partner has been the only aviation company to hold the royal seal of approval “By appointment to Her Majesty The Queen”. In the financial year 2012/13 the company had an annual turnover of 266 million euros and made a profit of 4.7 million euros. The workforce of around 230 employees handles approximately 15,000 flights per year. Air Partner International GmbH has been certified in accordance with ISO 9001 since 2013.


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