The mammoth Somewhere Back In Time trek kicks off in February with shows in 20 cities on five continents in seven weeks, including India, Japan, North America, Central and South America and the band’s first Australian performances in 15 years.

Australian stops include the Burswood Dome in Perth (February 4), Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne (February 6), Acer Arena in Sydney (February 9) and Entertainment Centre in Brisbane (February 12).

The band will follow up those shows with a major North American run in late May and June before finishing with a third leg in July and August that will hit stadiums and festivals across Europe.

Iron Maiden will accomplish this Herculean journey with the help of a specially commissioned and converted Astraeus Boeing 757. The plane, piloted by vocalist Bruce Dickinson who is a qualified Astraeus Airlines Captain, will carry the band, its 60 member crew and support staff and more than 12 tons of equipment around the globe.

According to Dickinson flying the whole show around the world together solves a lot of problems.

“By taking band, personnel and equipment in one form of transportation, it makes all the touring so much easier and overcomes the logistical difficulty of people and equipment going in different planes,” the singer said. “We can even work out exactly how big our carbon footprint is and take care of that responsibility!”

To tie in with the 2008 releases of DVD versions of Maiden concert videos “Live After Death” and “Maiden England,” the band will focus almost entirely on the ’80s in both song choices and stage set for the tour.

The set will be based mainly around the band’s Egyptian production of the 1984-85 World Slavery Tour, but will include key elements of the 1986-87 Somewhere In Time Tour, including Iron Maiden mascot, Cyborg Eddie.

Bassist Steve Harris said the choice of material and sets for the tour is a thank you to fans.

“On the last tour we opened the show by playing our new album, A Matter of Life and Death, in its 80 minute entirety,” Harris said. “We thought we needed the challenge and it proved the right thing to do.

“However, it can be hard on the fans playing so much new material, and we really appreciated the superb effort they gave us. So now I guess it’s payback time. It’s tremendous to be able to use the profile of the DVDs to do what is effectively an ’80s show.”