The remote British island outpost of St Helena has heralded the arrival of the first passenger aircraft to land at the island’s new airport.
British Airways franchise partner Comair (South Africa) was selected last March to provide the air service to the island with a Boeing 737-800 configured specifically to serve the Johannesburg-St Helena route. The 737 touched down on St Helena shortly before 12 p.m. April 18 as part of an implementation flight in readiness for the beginning of weekly flights to the island from Johannesburg, South Africa expected to begin in the next few weeks.
The flight allowed crews to make a single approach before making a full-stop landing; however, one landing attempt was aborted because of an apparent windshear warning moments before touchdown. The aircraft carried a consignment of spares that will be left on the island in case of issues with departing flights in the future. The 737 departed the island on April 20.
The arrival comes eight days after a Bombardier Challenger 300 arrived on the island carrying a team of auditors from UK’s Air Safety Support International (ASSI) who will decide whether to award certification to the airport and allow it to begin passenger operations. A decision on the certification is expected in the coming weeks.
The new airport, which cost the British government about £250 million ($350 million) to develop, is expected to open St Helena up to tourism, and set the island on a course to self-sustainability. St Helena is a small volcanic island in the South Atlantic Island, about 2,500 miles east of rio de Janeiro.
The airport is set to officially open May 21.
A second airline is also offering flights to the island. Atlantic Star Airlines is planning to offer services from London’s Luton airport via Banjul, Gambia where the aircraft will be refueled and the flight crew changed. The service will use a Boeing 737-800 operated by Dutch operator TUIfly.