French eco-tourism company, Grands Espaces, plans to deploy British-made Airlander 10 airships on voyages to the Arctic from 2028. Jenny Southan reports

Hybrid Air Vehicles and Grands Espaces have agreed an aircraft reservation deal that will allow the Airlander 10 airship to embark on expeditions in remote regions of the world, including within the Arctic.

The two companies say they “share a vision for sustainable and immersive travel and rethinking exploration without environmental harm”.

Grands Espaces is a French eco-tourism company founded by renowned Arctic scientist and author, Christian Kempf. Usually it uses small ships and yachts for expedition cruises but the emergence of next-gen airships will create the opportunity to explore the poles silently and cleanly from above. They can also land almost anywhere.

Today’s announcement is another step forward in Airlander 10’s entry into service programme, growing an order book already in excess of £1bn and building momentum towards the start of production this year.

By bringing together the Airlander 10, which claims to be the “world’s most efficient large aircraft”, with Grands Espaces’ sustainably minded and pioneering vision of tourism, the deal will enable the expansion of tourism into new and less-explored regions with an ultra-low emissions aircraft.

Airlander’s ability to take-off and land from any reasonably flat surface, including water and ice, and the minimal requirement for fixed infrastructure will help to sustainably expand Grands Espaces’ services, offering improved access to areas that cannot be easily reached by conventional aircraft or boat, while offering a unique experience for guests.Airlander 10Grands Espaces customers will be able to embark on exclusive trips, including to spectacular natural sites, providing customers with truly immersive and intimate experiences. Grand Espaces rethinks the typical vision of tourism, focusing on low-impact trips and connecting with local communities.

With production set to begin this year, Grands Espaces will be able to offer customers new Airlander 10 experiences from 2028.

George Land, executive director of sales for Hybrid Air Vehicles, says: “Airlander is an aircraft that brings great possibilities to the world of travel and tourism, offering more services and new experiences without the negative effects legacy aircraft have on the planet. This agreement with Grands Espaces is so important to us because of our shared values of sustainable growth and responsibility and respect for the environment. Through this reservation agreement Hybrid Air Vehicles and Grands Espaces are rethinking what is possible for a low-impact, low-carbon tourism industry.”

Christian Kempf, founder and CEO, Grands Espaces, says: “Grands Espaces has been a pioneer in polar exploration cruises aboard small boats. For over 25 years, our travellers have been exploring remote and fragile regions with us, returning amazed and with a better understanding of these places. The environment is at the core of our philosophy, not only in the organization of our trips but also through my history as a scientist exploring polar regions for over 50 years.

“We always move forward with a pioneering spirit. We have worked for 4 years with HAV to prepare for this project and partnership. The signing of this reservation agreement is a significant step forward. We find in HAV the pioneering and innovative spirit that resonates with us, and we are confident that we will achieve great things together.”