Unusual ferry flight opens up new perspectives for Saint Helena airport
Readers of this site are possibly already acquainted with the predicament Saint Helena Airport currently finds itself into.
The long-awaited facility, which was meant to break the secular isolation of this mid-Atlantic island, can not be fully used at the moment, because of a problem with wind shear on the main runway.
Nevertheless, this last month saw the arrival of a very special flight - an Avro RJ100 on a rather peculiar routing: Zurich (Switzerland) to Punta Arenas, Chile (a city located at the Southernmost tip of the Latin American continent).
This was, actually, a ferry flight operated by Tronos Jet Maintenance, that was delivering the aircraft to its new operator in Chile, and carrying onboard, among others, the director of Atlantic Star Airlines, the airline that is trying to introduce flights between Saint Helena and the UK.
The Avro RJ100 has a relatively limited range so the journey involved stops in Marrakech, Banjul, Ascension Island, Saint Helena, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo. Quite an eclectic and diverse collection of sights for those onboard!
With this trip Atlantic Star Airways assessed the feasibility of reaching Saint Helena with smaller aircraft, as one of the options that is currently being contemplated in order to provide service to the island is running a shuttle service from Saint Helena to Ascension Island.
At this other mid-Atlantic British territory, travellers would be able to connect with the regular flights to the UK, as the island serves as a stopover point for the flights that the RAF runs between the Falklands and Brize Norton air base, in the UK. Such a service would need first to clear a number of obstacles, though, such as Ascension being a military base that is usually not open to civilian flights.
As a curiosity, at the helm of the aircraft two pilots from...the Faroe Islands! another mid-Ocean outpost that, although in a much more Northerly latitude, shares with Saint Helena, its relative isolation, an airport with challenging natural conditions and a national airline called "Atlantic Airways" (not connected to Saint Helena-focused Atlantic Star Airways though!)
For some additional details and a great account of this unusual air journey, here is a great article published on a local website .