Remote island St Helena gets flights

Remote island St Helena gets flights”

"Thank you for being part of this historical event", the pilot said before takeoff.

Before the opening of the airport, which will receive weekly flights to and from the South African commercial capital, the only way to St. Helena was a five-night voyage from Cape Town aboard the RMS St. Helena, a British postal ship. The price of Johannesburg-St Helena flight planned once a week will be 800 pounds (1060 dollars). The volcanic island's economy relies heavily on tourism, among its draws is a 185-year old tortoise named Jonathan and a heart shaped water falls.

The story of how air travel to St. Helena came about is also, well, unusual.

The UK-funded airport cost almost 285 million in Sterline (380 million dollars).

The airport officially opened in June 2016, but with a major proviso: large jets can not land there due to unsafe winds. That prompted harsh criticism of the British government in a parliamentary report that said the failure to foresee the hard weather conditions was "staggering".

With the risk of wind-shear limiting the size of planes and numbers of passengers - Saturday's flight had room for 100 but only 68 on board due to weight restrictions - the hoped-for tourist boom is unlikely to materialise. The Embraer E190-100IGW-type aircraft operated by SA Airlink Airlines 78 passengers.

After safe passage of trial flights between Johannesburg and St Helena in summer, airport was made a decision to open. Some charter and medical evacuation flights have used the airport in the past year.

St. Helena measures in at 47 square miles and is home to a population of just 4,255.

"It will boost its tourism industry, creating the opportunity to increase its revenues, and will bring other benefits such as quicker access to healthcare for those living on the island".

The British press, airport in St Helena, " world's most unnecessary airport" comments were included.

Discovered by Portuguese mariners in 1502, St. Helena was a way station for ships for centuries and was a key port for Britain's East India Company.

It is where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his last years in exile.

Though empty, his grave on St. Helena is a popular destination for visitors.

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