Travel to St Helena by air took a step closer to reality yesterday, 17 July, 2017, with a press release from SHG (St Helena Government) announcing details of imminent flights.
SA Airlink and St Helena Government have surprised everyone it seems, announcing the long awaited flights to St Helena will link from both Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, via the Namibian capital, Windhoek, giving all concerned a choice of mainland destination. This arrangement should satisfy most people.
Air Travel To St Helena Is Almost Here | by Darrin Henry
The announcement came yesterday with the signing of a three-year contract for SA Airlink to provide a scheduled air service to and from St Helena.
Ticket prices and date of commencement * are still to be finalised but this can’t be far off now.
The round trip flights to St Helena will take place once a week on Saturdays. Although air fares have not yet been announced the general feeling is they are likely to be higher than those planned with Comair last year. See our blog about Comair prices from April 2016.
St Helena Will Use The Embraer Aeroplane
Aircraft to be used by SA Airlink is the Brazilian made, Embraer E190-100IGW. An E190 series Embraer has already demonstrated its ability to cope with the challenging wind conditions at St Helena during extensive flight trials in December 2016, which should bring confidence to passengers. Check out our full interview with the test pilot from Embraer.
Times & Days of Air Service to St Helena
Departures/arrivals as announced – note all times are Universal Time Clock (UTC):
Johannesburg (JNB) to Windhoek (WDH): 07:00-09:00
Cape Town (CPT) to Windhoek (WDH): 06:30 – 08:30
Windhoek (WDH) to St Helena (HLE): 09:30 – 13:15
St Helena (HLE) to Windhoek (WDH): 14:30 – 18:05
Windhoek (WDH) to Johannesburg (JNB): 18:40 – 20:30
Windhoek (WDH to Cape Town (CPT): 19:05 – 21:00
Air fares to/from Cape Town or Johannesburg, from St Helena, are expected to be the same or similar.
Air Travel to St Helena, What Else Do We Know?
While yesterday’s announcement didn’t give fares or commencement dates it did cover plenty of important details that will help anyone already planning their travel to St Helena.
The aircraft being used will initially limit maximum passenger numbers to 76. This figure is 20 less than the requirement set out in the tender document. This it seems is to ensure a safe landing weight with a tail wind on runway 02 if necessary. If weather conditions are favourable, however, pilots will land into the wind on runway 20, ‘affectionately’ known locally as the wind shear end.
Economy class, 20kg checked (or hold baggage) plus 1 carry-on piece and slimline laptop bag, each up to 8kg.
Business class, 30kg checked plus 2 carry-on pieces and a slimline laptop bag, each up to 8kg.
Flights from St Helena to Ascension Island
One round trip flight will take place on the second Saturday of each month to Ascension Island. On these occasions the aircraft will depart St Helena at 14:30 for the two hour island hop.
It will stay overnight on Ascension, departing at 11:15 the next day to return to St Helena at 13:15,then departing for Windhoek that same Sunday at 14:30. All times are UTC.
These are the key points we’ve extracted, but do follow the link to read the full press release from SHG and SA Airlink which includes a helpful Q&A document.
Flying to St Helena; Nice To Have Options
Both Sharon and I feel really positive about the announcement. While connecting via Johannesburg didn’t really bother us, like many Saints we do love Cape Town and all the city has to offer, as well has having good friends there.
Looking at the arrival times for the flights into South Africa from St Helena, personally we are unlikely to risk connecting with an onward flight to another country that same night. Small delays in air travel we’ve found are quite common which means the connecting window will be tight. A longer delay potentially means the expense of missing a flight.
Same thing for departures going the other way, from South Africa to St Helena; we would aim to be in either Jo’burg or Cape Town the day before, at least, to guarantee the connection. But considering what we have at the moment, five long days at sea each way, then the alternative of a day or two in Cape Town with plenty to see and do (and eat) suits us just fine.
Mind you, we are quite curious to see Johannesburg as well, so you never know. Already this choice has us thinking!
For Saints all over the world, this is an exciting time for us to once again be looking at dates and times and planning a holiday away or flights to St Helena.