The remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic is currently only serviced by SA Airlink operating Embraer E190’s but this may change in future. On Thursday 30th July, the largest aircraft to date arrived at St Helena Airport a Boeing 757-200 from the British charter company Titan Airways.
The Boeing was carrying passengers from the UK and Ascension island, where it made a stopover, on its journey to St Helena. The-flight was unfortunately plagued with delays, the leg from London was due to take place earlier in the week, but was delayed due to a bird strike. The B757 was then forced to return to Ascension on Thursday due to a technical issue after take-off. Eventually, it succeeded and touched down on the picturesque Island on Thursday afternoon. St Helena is notorious for unpredictable wind-shear that has scared off many an operator from setting up a scheduled to and from the island.
The Boeing 757 returned to the UK on Friday with a stopover in Accra, Ghana after performing a series of take-offs and landings at St. Helena to practice the difficult approaches on both runway 02 and 20. The government of St. Helena says this could be useful for more flights that could be planned with the 757 in future.
Boeing 757 landing fuels old hopes for a direct connection from the UK to St Helena as the island is part of the British Overseas Territory. According to the St Helena Independent newspaper, the UK and Europe are seen as the main market for tourist flights to St Helena. Currently, passengers from Europe travel to Johannesburg, South Africa and then fly with Airlink to the Atlantic Ocean island on one of their scheduled flights, the only alternative to this is a lengthy sea voyage on a Royal Mail Ship.
The British company Atlantic Star Airlines had in the past sought a subsidised connection to St. Helena. The airline planned to fly from London to St Helena and on to Cape Town using Boeing 757’s. Plans for this route were shelved when, in 2017, a contract was awarded to the South African Airlink with a connection to Johannesburg. One of the founders of Atlantic Star Airlines, Richard Brown revealed that Atlantic Star Airlines are planning on re-applying for the route in 2021.
St Helena is a remote sub-tropical island, 1400 miles from the nearest landfall. It reveals deep verdant valleys, barren desert, volcanic scree, plentiful birdlife and rich history as the halfway point on the East India trade route (before the Suez Canal opened).