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Article from TNU DECEMBER 2023

St Helena update into 2024

The mid-South Atlantic British Overseas Territory of St Helena has now published flight details for additional services to and from South Africa until April 2025.

Announced are plans for a second weekly return flight, linking with Cape Town and offered December 2024 to March 2025, to bolster St Helena’s usual weekly Johannesburg flights. Airlink, the South African domestic airline, is contracted to supply the services.

These come about as one-time resident Napolean is portrayed in Ridley Scott’s new film of the same name.  Napoleon died on the island in 1821 aged 51 at Longwood House, now owned by France.

St Helena Airport opened in 2017 and has proved a great success, a weekly flight from Johannesburg replacing a five-day sea journey from Cape Town and much increasing tourist potential.  Travel time is six hours including a refuelling stop at Windhoek (Namibia).  Besides the Airlink flights, the island has provided an alternative routing for approved aircraft crossing the South Atlantic.

There is the potential of fifth freedom services from Windhoek which would give more direct UK connections via Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways, and potentially KLM and Lufthansa who have provided flights in the past.  

The outbreak of the pandemic literally cut off the island from the rest of the world. Regular commercial flights were halted.  Plans for the French President to visit in May 2021, the 200th anniversary of Napolean’s passing, were cancelled.

Although St Helena has tremendous tourist potential the numbers have to be small due to a limited infrastructure and the size of the island. Likewise offshore visits from the largest cruise ships are not practical.  It is perfect for the new breed of expedition vessels with smaller passenger numbers.

On the announcement, Minister for Treasury and Economic Development Mark Brooks, said: “Since last November work has been underway to add both additional flights and an additional destination during the summer months next year.  This enables the restoration of the Island’s traditional link to Cape Town, one which we had for so many years under the RMS St Helena”.

“Tourism is the largest contributor to the Island economy after UK aid, so having more options for travellers, as well as people on Island, is welcomed. I’d like to thank everyone involved in getting this over the line, and in particular Airlink for their continued partnership with the Island”.

Flown by a 98-seat two-class Embraer 190 the Johannesburg – St Helena return flights operate on a Saturday and Tuesday until the end of February 2024, then become weekly on a Saturday until Cape Town is introduced next December.

Far to the north, Ascension Island is also served from St Helena, normally monthly, with a stopover making the return one day later.

BTN has reported on St Helena over the years with TNU Editor-in-Chief Malcolm Ginsberg a guest for the inaugural scheduled flight Saturday 17 October 2017.

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All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 200 words maximum

Tim Procter, United Kingdom

A direct B757 service from London, via Accra for fuel, and return would cost a fraction that Saints now pay to get to the UK via JNB or CPT. Airfares to these locals are critical; why should they pay more than twice as much to fly twice as long? Saves almost 24-hours too in either direction. 80% of Saints have family/descendants in UK. Direct UK flights would double/triple tourist traffic to the Island rather than trapesing round FRA, then a day to JNB or WDH, then another three hours to Jamestown. All this was proposed to DfID in 2014. I know this - I was the author.

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