Airlink’s inaugural flight for its once-a-week scheduled air service to St Helena is set to take off on October 14.
In 1815, The British government exiled Napoleon Bonaparte to St Helena. He died six years later and was buried at the Valley of the Willows before his remains were taken back to Paris.
Mantis Collection has been restoring three old Georgian buildings on the island, which will comprise 30 en-suite bedrooms, and dining and bar facilities.
St Helena Tourism is hoping for an influx of tourist to the South Atlantic island. Director, Chris Pickard, said: “With the release of fares, schedules and the start date for flights, we have reached the moment of truth where we will learn what the demand is to visit St Helena.”
On its first flight, the aircraft will overnight on St Helena before returning to Johannesburg. The schedule thereafter is as follows:
· The outbound flight operates on Saturdays, departing Johannesburg at 09h00 and arriving in St Helena at 13h15.
· The return flight will departing from St Helena that afternoon at 14h30 and arrive in Johannesburg at 20h30.
There will be a refuelling stop on both the outbound and return flights at Windhoek International Airport in Namibia.
“There is still a lot of work to be done as St Helena has to compete for business with all the other fantastic destinations around the world,” said Pickard.
He added St Helena was the new kid on the block and he had faith that now that the island had flights in the system, the visitors would come to “discover the charms of St Helena”.
Once a month the flight schedule will be amended to incorporate a flight to Ascension Island. This will commence in the third weekend of November.
Initially, the maximum number of passengers on each flight will be 76, with six seats in business class and 70 in economy. In the first quarter of 2018, Airlink plans to carry out an engine upgrade, which will allow the aircraft to carry 87 passengers on the route.
Ticket prices to St Helena start at £804 (R13 453), including taxes, for an economy return fare from Johannesburg and £846 (R14 155) from Cape Town.
The airline is currently pursuing Fifth Freedom rights on the leg between Windhoek and St Helena. This would allow passengers from other carriers to join or disembark the St Helena service at Windhoek. If granted the rights, it would mean that Airlink could sell tickets for the St Helena and Windhoek legs of the journey.
Despite media reports to the contrary, Airlink has confirmed that its domestic licence is valid.