From 2024, Swedish company OceanSky Cruises will fly elite passengers in a sustainable, floating five-star hotel that’s lighter than air. Rose Dykins reports

In two years’ time, air travel pioneer OceanSky Cruises will launch expeditions from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, to the North Pole in its next-generation airship.

A sustainable aviation alternative that enables intrepid luxury travel, OceanSky Cruises’s airship is a 100-metre-long hybrid aircraft, combining buoyancy from helium with aerodynamic lift created by the shape of its hull. Driven forward by four propellors, the vehicle can fly continuously for days.Oceansky © Tom HegenBeing lighter than air means the airship has an excellent payload capacity – allowing for more space and onboard facilities, and therefore a new level of aviation luxury. It also doesn’t need for airports for take-off and landing, meaning passengers can disembark and board at remote locations during expeditions.

OceanskyInside, OceanSky Cruises’s airship is furnished to the level of comfort of a luxury hotel. Its spacious cabins feature large panoramic windows that maximise the view. (This is actually a picture of Hybrid Air Vehicle’s Airlander airship, which might be supplied to OceanSky.)

Oceansky © Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd and Design Q

Oceansky © Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd and Design Q The 16 passengers on the airship will be served Arctic-inspired cuisine by an award-winning chef, seated at a separate dining area.

As the cabin isn’t pressurised, the on-board experience is quiet, with with pleasant quality of air. The airship also moves so slowly and smoothly, that OceanSky Cruises says no seatbelts are needed on board.

Oceansky © Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd and Design QOnce they land – which will be the first time an airship has landed on the North Pole – passengers will embark on a day-long excursion on the Arctic plains. During OceanSky Cruises’s inaugural season, some of its expeditions will be led by Arctic expert and climate activist Robert Swan.

Oceansky © Tom Hegen & KIRT X THOMSENCarl Oscar-Lawaczeck, CEO and founder of OceanSky Cruises, said: “The expedition to the North Pole is for the traveller who wants to experience the Arctic in a unique way, and at the same time, contribute to the development of sustainable travel.”

He adds: “Roald Amundsen flew from Svalbard and over the North Pole in 1926 with the airship ‘Norge’. Now we are doing the same expedition, but we will also land on the North Pole. The passengers will enjoy the Arctic nature in serenity and comfort in a hyper-efficient modern flying vehicle. They will be pioneering a new way to travel, flying for sustainable skies.”

Oceansky © KIRT X THOMSENDescribing itself as an “airline of airships” OceanSky Cruises wants is on a mission to make sustainable aviation a reality through the airships, as a low-emission alternative for travelling the world.

Making it possible to fly continuously for days without needing supporting infrastructure, airships present a compelling proposition for high-end adventures, and accessing remote corners in the world with a minimal environmental impact.

Lawaczeck says: “[Airships] are the most efficient and clean aerial vehicles and they give us the freedom to access remote locations – wilderness, untouched places – without a footprint.”