St Helena Government and SA Airlink (‘Airlink’) are pleased to announce that they have today 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. This will include a proving flight to the Island.
Following the necessary approvals and proving flight, SHG will be able to announce the commencement date for a service between St Helena Airport and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is expected that the monthly service between St Helena and Ascension Island will start soon after and operate on the second Saturday of each month.
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.
OR Tambo is an international hub and offers connectivity to over 80 airports around the world including to the UK and Europe. Further information about the planned service 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 a matter of hours rather than 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:
“We are delighted to have reached this milestone and we are extremely excited to be preparing for the proving flight and to the inaugural flight shortly after. 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 the commencement date, 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.
Airlink is a privately owned airline registered in South Africa. It is a franchisee to South African Airways. Airlink is a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and as such is IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) accredited. Airlink is a well-established South Africa domiciled airline operating on a comprehensive scheduled network with domestic and regional passenger and cargo services offering more than fifty thousand flights annually.