St Helena Government and SA Airlink (‘Airlink’) announced they have signed an agreement for Airlink to provide scheduled commercial air services to St Helena Island. Airlink will also operate a monthly charter service between St Helena and Ascension Island. This follows a period of contractual negotiations with Airlink
Over the coming weeks, Airlink will be finalising regulatory approvals with the South African Civil Aviation Authority. Following the necessary approvals, it is anticipated that a service between St Helena Airport and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, will commence in October. Further information on the monthly service between St Helena and Ascension Island will be announced shortly.
There will be a stopover at Windhoek International Airport in Namibia before the flight continues to St Helena Airport. On the return route, the flight will stopover at Windhoek before returning to Johannesburg. On both legs of the journey there will be an opportunity for a connection at Windhoek to a connecting flight to and from Cape Town; this gives flexibility to passengers to go to either destination. A proving flight will need to take place and more information will follow in due course.
OR Tambo is an international hub and offers connectivity to over 80 airports around the world including to the UK and Europe. The St Helena Air Service has been scheduled so that flight times coincide with some of the flight connections to the UK and Europe. Further information about OR Tambo, medical services there and approximate costs of onward journeys and frequencies can be found in the attached Q&A.
The initial weekly service on a Saturday will be operated using an Embraer E190-100IGW aircraft in a two class configuration (Business Class and Economy) with the flight time from Johannesburg to St Helena being approximately 6hrs 15 mins including a half hour stop in Windhoek.
The agreement with Airlink is for an initial term of three years from the date of the first flight.
HE Governor Lisa Phillips said: “Undoubtedly, 2017 is the year of positive change for St Helena. Very soon a trip to South Africa, for St Helenians, will take six hours rather than six days. And we will be able to welcome tourists here in larger numbers and improve the economy of the Island and offer a better life for those who live here.
“My thanks to everyone who has worked so hard in getting to this point and also my thanks for the funding we received to enable it to happen. I am confident the future is a bright one.”
Airlink’s CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster, added that they are delighted to have reached this milestone and are extremely excited to be preparing for the proving flight and to the inaugural flight in early October.
"Airlink is confident that our Embraer E190 ETOPS certified aircraft is most suited to the demanding environmental conditions prevalent at St Helena and that we will establish a safe and reliable air bridge between St Helena and South Africa - thereby creating air linkages between St Helena and the rest of the world by way of the interconnectivity offered at Johannesburg.
“We are pleased to be able to connect both Cape Town and Johannesburg to St Helena by way of designed flight coordination at Windhoek - we acknowledge that Cape Town is an important destination for Saints and we recognise that Cape Town enjoys significant tourism visitations growing at thirty percent annually which could become an important source market for St Helena’s tourism aspirations.”
Information on ticket sales and details on the cost of fares and sales distribution, including for Ascension Island, will be issued in due course. The fares offered are anticipated to be the same or similar between Johannesburg and St Helena and Cape Town and St Helena.