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AviaSolutions handles procurement of air services to St. Helena Island

In March 2015, AviaSolutions announced that it had DfIDcompleted a project for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to procure air services to the remote island of St. Helena when its airport opens in 2016.

Currently, the only way to reach the 10 miles by 5 miles volcanic island located in the South Atlantic Ocean is via the Royal Mail Ship St. Helena, a vessel that visits about once every three weeks, taking six days to make the voyage from Cape Town.

Once the new airport is complete in 2016, Comair Limited, a South African airline, aviation and travel company, will provide weekly scheduled service between Johannesburg, South Africa, and St. Helena Airport using a brand-new Boeing 737-800, operating as British Airways, with which Comair has a franchise agreement.

St. Helena is one of the most remote islands in the world. Thought to have been discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, it was first populated by the East India Company in the 17th Century, becoming an important port of call on voyages from India and the East Indies. Captain Cook’s vessel HMS Endeavour resupplied off the coast of St. Helena in 1771 on its return from the European discovery of Australia. Some famous residents included Napoleon Bonaparte who saw out his final days here (his residency is still French State property) and more than 5,000 Boers taken prisoner during the Boer War.

The main beneficiaries of the new air service will be the 4,250 island residents – known as “Saints” – and their visiting relatives. However, the service will surely increase tourism to the “undiscovered” island. St. Helena attracts just 1,200 tourists a year, a number constrained by the number of ship berths and hotel rooms on the island.