COMAIR ANNOUNCE TICKET PRICES | Darrin Henry
The price for Comair flights from St Helena to Johannesburg, return, “will start from £583” – it’s official!
The long awaited figure was finally released today in a statement titled, ‘British Airways (Operated by Comair) Ready To Serve The Saints.’
My initial reaction is one of relief; it is within the price range long discussed and now people can plan.
Airport on St Helena Getting All The Attention
The wording on the official release, however, worries me a bit: “will start from £583” suggests there is more to it; let’s hope we’re not swapping the scramble for a handful of lower priced C Deck budget cabins on the RMS St Helena with a similar battle for limited numbers of airplane seats sold on tiered costs.
For now, let’s continue with the ‘happy vibe’ that hit me when I first saw the press release!
The £583 price is for Traveller (economy) class, all inclusive. Presumably this covers airport fees and taxes.
A business or club class seat is also an option, also worded “from £943,” again all inclusive.
St Helena’s brand new airport really is getting all the attention recently what with the first jet plane landing on Sunday and, the recent announcement that Prince Edward will be the guest of honour at the opening ceremony next month, on 21 May.
Is £583 A Good Price For St Helena Flights?
Within hours of today’s announcement I’ve seen debate start over the cost – is it a good price? Well for Sharon and me, if it is £583, we think it’s a good price and here’s why:
We have a scrap of paper from September 2014 that is still under a magnet on our fridge – on it we wrote down RMS fares as they were quoted to us back then for a trip to Cape Town. The cheapest cabin available, five months in advance of February 2015, was £535 per person, one way. Return was double, at £1,070 per person.
Five days travel time, one way, plus the obligatory two days in Cape Town which we always factored in to allow for delays. A return trip to UK on the RMS via Cape Town therefore meant factoring two weeks travel time and there is still the cost of the return flight to add.
Now, with air travel possible from St Helena, we will be able to take off from Prosperous Bay Plain at 12:30 on a Saturday, transfer in O.R. Tambo airport, Johannesburg five hours later and be in London at 06:55 the next morning. The return timeframe is similar, less than a day, and total cost could be around £1,100 depending how/when we book.
Flight Times: OR Tambo to St Helena
One-way travel times St Helena to London are being slashed from seven days to 18 hours. It’s an exciting time for many, many people.
Next month when scheduled flights are expected to start, they will take place once a week on Saturdays. A Comair, Boeing 737-800 aircraft, will operate at these times:
Depart O.R. Tambo, Johannesburg (JNB) 08:30 local (GMT+2)
Arrive St Helena (HLE) 11:30 GMT
Depart St Helena (HLE) 12:30 GMT
Arrive Johannesburg (JNB) 18:30 (GMT+2)
It will soon be possible that we could be in Alarm Forest, St Helena at 10am on Saturday and at White Hart Lane, London by midday on Sunday to watch Tottenham in Premier League action! OK, we would need flight and match day tickets, but even so, that would have been impossible before. I’m just making the point. A similar one could be made for concerts or weddings or conferences etc.
I’m using London as an example but Johannesburg airport has flights scheduled to absolutely anywhere in the world!
That brand new way of life that has been coming for so long for Saints, is about to start!
Best Price Return: St Helena to London Heathrow
After the prices were announced I had a quick search on the Expedia travel website, which Sharon and I use extensively whenever we travel. Here are some interesting prices, for people on St Helena especially, wanting to take a holiday abroad.
I’ve picked random dates for a three week holiday to the UK. The St Helena to Johannesburg cost is fixed at £583, so really we’re looking at the flight options from Johannesburg. For instance:
3 Week trip to London, UK – LHR (London Heathrow)
Departing St Helena 4 June 2016
Potential lowest fare: £423.15 – Qatar Airways, 20:50 – 13:15 +1 day, 1 stop DOH (Doha)
Potential direct lowest fare: £564.35 – South African Airways, 20:25 – 06:55 +1 day
British Airways (BA): £590.65, 21:10 – 07:20 +1 day, direct flight
It means cheapest round-trip flight costs to UK from St Helena could range from about £1,000 to £1,150 in total. These costs can easily go up or down depending on how far in advance you book, the time of day you choose to fly and of course whether you fly direct or are willing to stop-over. We’ve found prices can also jump or drop significantly when we are able to alter departure or arrival by a day or two in either direction.
Flights back to St Helena will depart Johannesburg at 08:30 local time on Saturday mornings, which means if you are flying in from another country you must allow sufficient connection time. More than likely an overnight stay in Johannesburg for many people might work out as the safest option; after all, miss the St Helena flight and it’s a week before the next one!
Although we’ve made connections through O.R. Tambo, Johannesburg we’ve never stayed in the city itself so can’t comment on the hotel options, other than to say there seem to be quite a few options available.
More Travel Options From Johannesburg
That’s travel to the UK, an obvious link for most people from St Helena, but in time many of us are going to start looking at the other options available to us from Johannesburg. Some of us have been looking already!
Here are some more interesting ideas after another quick search on Expedia for return flights from JNB to other destinations.
New York, USA – JFK
5 wk trip: 22 July 2016 dept St Helena 18 June
Potential lowest fare: £590.60 – Emirates, 22:20 – 20:45 +1 day, 1 stop 6h 40m in DXB (Dubai)
Paris, France – CDG
3 wk trip: dept St Helena 11 June
Potential lowest fare: £434.40 – Qatar Airways, 20:50 – 20:40 + 1 day, 1 stop 8h 35m in DOH
Potential direct lowest fare: £688.90 – Air France, 18:50 – 05:40 +1 day
4 Wk trip: dept St Helena 18 June
Potential lowest fare: £450.30 – Emirates, 22:20 – 20:55 + 1 day, 1 stop 7h 25m in DXB
Cape Town, South Africa – CPT
4 Wk trip: dept St Helena 18 June
Potential lowest fare: £148.20 – South African Airways, 19:30 – 21:40 (also 21:00 dep)
There are actually plenty of cheaper return flights to Cape Town at £103, but they are all earlier in the day. Combining a hotel room with a next day flight might be a cheaper option for two people sharing the room.
Bangkok, Thailand – BKK
4 Wks: dept St Helena 23 July
Potential lowest fare: £413.90 – Qatar Airways, 20:50 – 19:05 +1 day, 1 stop 2h 10m in DOH
Sao Paulo, Brazil
4 Wks: dept St Helena 23 July
Potential lowest fare: £609.90 – South African Airways, 21:35 – 02:55 +1 day (direct)
4 Wks: dept St Helena 6 August 2016
Potential lowest fare: £652.00 – Emirates, 22:20 – 05:25 +2 days, 1 stop, 1h 55m in DXB
Something To Talk About On St Helena
International travel at this speed and at these prices is something the rest of the world takes for granted, but for Saints, it’s going to mean a whole new way of thinking. Yes, it’s still expensive, but overall it’s going to be a lot more affordable for a lot more people.
Just going through the options listed above and realising what is possible, is very exciting.
Johannesburg as a city is still a worry for a lot of Saints concerned about the crime aspect that gets a lot of publicity. First hand word of mouth will be important here – once a few Saints have holidayed in Jo’burg and returned to pass on their experiences, confidence will change accordingly.
For certain, I know what the topic of conversation on the island is going to be for the coming weeks!
Important Note: The information I’ve given here is only a guide intended to give an overview of what travel expenses and options from St Helena could be like. Anyone intending to make payments for travel should confirm dates/times and other details with a reliable/qualified travel agent before parting with any money.