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High hopes for Saint Helena’s airport up in the air

first comair boeing 737-800_flight to saint helena airport

please note, we were sent this update from the Saint Helena government authorities:

St Helena Airport has been certified by Air Safety Support International, is open and operational.  In fact, there are currently two private charter aircraft parked on the Apron at St Helena Airport.

It has not yet been possible to commence scheduled commercial air services to the Island.  However, operations at St Helena Airport are underway and consist primarily of one-off charter flights.  21 flights have successfully landed so far at St Helena Airport including three vital medevac flights.

On 7 December 2016, St Helena Government released a tender for air services for a three year period to provide the best possible air service for the Island.  This tender process will determine the timeline of the commencement of regularly scheduled commercial flights to the Island.  The Royal Mail Ship service has been extended to guarantee access to the Island in the interim.

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On Saint Helena, the tiny island  in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean where Napoleon died and was buried, the four  thousand residents celebrated when the British government gave the final go ahead to the construction  of an airport on the island.

After lobbying for the airport for decades, residents were jubilant when the airport finally opened in 2016, the Government having spent more than 400 million dollars on the project.

The frequent high winds prevent aircraft’s from landing, which was the main cause of the extensive delay. However, the project persevered because of the islands isolation, with nowhere else for planes to land; the nearest airport to Saint Helena being Ascension Island, nearly two thousand miles away

Unfortunately, all fears  have now been realised and the airport has been closed much to the frustration of the residents and the embarassment of the authorities and Government now accused of lavishing hundreds of millions on a ”white elephant”.

For the time being, residents and visitors to Saint Helena must continue to travel to the island  the way they have for hundreds of years – by the Royal Mail ship, Saint Helena, which leaves Capetown, in South Africa, every three weeks, the whole trip taking five days.

Now authorities and aircraft companies are trying to agree to plans allowing smaller aircraft, less affected by the winds to use the airport. However it is not  clear whether this will be an economically viable option.

Zay with St Helena’s giant tortoise

Check out Globe Trekker’s episode on St Helena in which Zay Harding embarks on a five day voyage from Cape Town on the last authentic British Royal Mail Ship to St Helena and checks out the sites  including Longwood House, where  Napoleon lived and died, the tomb where he was buried, the capital, Jamestown….. and the  controversial airport site.