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Fly here

The fastest way to get here

Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.{j}

Flying is the fastest way to get to St Helena…

SEE ALSO: This page is about the services offered from our ‍airport‍. You can also read about the airport’s construction. To find accommodation here please see our page Where To Stay. You can also Fly Yourself Here.

St Helena Airport is operated by Inline Image @@E@@{3}St Helena Airport Limited, to whom operational enquiries should be directed.

Scheduled Commercial Air Service

Please note: the timetables shown below are the standard weekly flight schedule. Additional flights may be offered at certain times. Please check all details with your travel agent.

Below: South Africa - St Helena- Ascension IslandTickets, Etc.Flight DisruptionsService changesPassengers with special needsAirport WebsiteAirbus A318 & Boeing 757

Poster

Route Map
Route Map
Pilot’s eye view, runway 19
Pilot’s eye view, runway 19{1}{k}
Airport sunrise
Airport sunrise{d}
Airport arrivals
Airport arrivals{l}

South Africa - St Helena

The scheduled commercial air service to St Helena commenced on 14th October 2017. Provided by Airlink (‘Airlink’) on contract to the Government of St Helena, it operates weekly on a Saturday from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. Return flights are normally the same day, but not in the week of the monthly call to Ascension Island (see the note below).

Two classes are available: Business and Economy, with a total of 98 seats available.

On the St Helena-bound leg here is a stopover at Walvis Bay (airport) (WVB) in Namibia, but this is for refuelling only{8} - it is not possible to join the flight at WVB. There is no stopover on the return flight.

FlightDepartureArrival
GMTLocalGMTLocal
4Z131 JNB-WVB07:0009:0009:0010:00
4Z131 WVB-HLE09:3010:3013:15
4Z132 HLE-JNB14:3019:1521:15

St Helena - Ascension Island

A monthly service is provided between St Helena and Ascension Island. The arriving aircraft from South Africa continues to Ascension, returning the following day (Sunday). On this week, therefore, the return flight to South Africa is on the Sunday, rather than the Saturday. The Ascension service operates on the Second Saturday of every month.

FlightDepartureArrival
GMTLocalGMTLocal
4Z131 JNB-WVB07:0009:0009:0010:00
4Z131 WVB-HLE09:3010:3013:15
4Z131 HLE-ASI14:3016:30
Overnight stop
4Z132 ASI-HLE11:1513:15
4Z132 HLE-JNB14:3019:1521:15

Tickets, Etc.

For prices, availability and to purchase a ticket go to www.flyairlink.com/‌destinations/‌flights-to-st-helena or any IATA Travel Agent.

LuggageChecked BaggageCarry On
Each piece should not exceed 8kg
Business Class30Kg2 Pieces plus 1 slimline laptop bag
Economy Class20Kg1 Piece plus 1 slimline laptop bag

Flight Disruptions

Airport in fog, November 2023
Airport in fog, November 2023{f}

Flight disruptions can occur at any time of year due to poor weather, but are most likely in July-October, our winter. The St Helena Airport website explains more. Historic experience since the scheduled commercial air service began operating in 2017 is that there are very few flight disruptions due to weather, though 2023 was particularly bad, possibly due to it being an El Niño year. Here are some sources of flight disruption information:

Our local radio stations also broadcast flight information.

Service changes

Since its inception a number of changes have been made to the service:

Additional flights were operated on Tuesdays during the summer period December 2018 - March 2019. In March 2019 it was announced that Tuesday flights would also operate during the summer period December 2019 - March 2020, but it was further announced that from 3rd December 2019 to 11th February 2020 the Tuesday service would operate from Cape Town (CPT) instead of Johannesburg. In January 2020 it was announced that these extra summer mid-week flights would continue at least until March 2022.

Passengers with special needs

The airport is equipped to handle passengers with special needs, including those with mobility issues and those with pacemakers, etc. More details on the Airport Website.

Airport Website

St Helena Airport has a website at sthelenaairport.com.

Airbus A318 & Boeing 757

Emergency flight, 20th April 2020
Emergency flight, 20th April 2020{f}
2nd flight, 31st July 2020
2nd flight, 31st July 2020{f}

As mentionad above, flights were suspended during the Covid‑19 Pandemic (but are now once again operating normally). During the suspension the Government of St Helena organised flights to and from the UK for the repatriation of Saints and the movement of essential Government personnel. These used different aircraft to the scheduled commercial air service, giving the airport the opportunity to experiment with different aircraft.

The Airport had experience of operating with an Airbus A318 on 20th April 2020, when an emergency flight from the UK chartered from Titan Airways brought medical supplies, Covid‑19 testing kits and a few passengers. Airport compliance manager James Kellet said Although the wind was quite strong on occasions, the aircraft performed very well and the crew gained valuable experience of operating to the Airport. The flight route was via Accra and Ascension Island, travelling back the same way.

A second flight operated at the end of July, again run by Titan Airways but this time using a Boeing 757. This therefore became the largest aircraft ever to land at St Helena Airport and, although not fully loaded, had no difficulty landing and taking off again. It also did some fly-around tests.

These events demonstrated the technical feasibility of operating a ‘direct’ (not via South Africa) flight to and from the UK, though at the time of writing no plans have been announced for such a scheduled service.

Check-in times

It was the standard airport-security operation, which meant it appeared to have been designed to hassle law-abiding passengers just enough to reassure them, while at the same time providing virtually no protection against criminals with an IQ higher than celery.{m}

Check-in hurry

Ever wondered why you are asked to turn up such a long time before the flight departs? After all, it’s not as if St Helena Airport is big and you have to travel miles to get to the departure gate. There aren’t thousands of passengers simultaneously trying to get through check-in and security. They don’t even have to allow time for you to get lost and be found before your flight departs. The whole process for all the passengers should take about half-an-hour; an hour tops. So why is ‘Turn-up time’ 11am for a 2:30pm flight?

The answer is both simple and, you might think, typically St Helena. You see, there is only one set of customs and immigration officials, and they can only be in one place at a time. They can’t be checking the new arrivals (making sure they’re not international terrorists and that they have all paid their entry fees and declared their second litre of Scotch) and at the same time checking the departing passengers for smuggled Wirebirds, etc. So the outbound passengers have to be inspected, documented and safely sequestered first, and then the team moves to the arrivals area to deal with the national threats posed by the incoming terroriststourists.

Puzzle explained!

Other Airport Uses

From the air
From the air{n}

Below: Fly here in your private plane?Medical EvacuationCharter Flights

Fly here in your private plane?

If you have your own private plane flying to St Helena has possible since the airport was completed in 2016. See our page Fly Yourself Here for more.

Medical Evacuation (‘Medevac’)

Since it was completed in 2016 the airport has been used for Medical Evacuations. As at December 2016 it had saved two lives; people who would not have survived the seven day sea voyage to Cape Town.

Charter Flights

Charter Flights have been flying here since the airport was completed in 2016. The first tourists to travel by charter flight arrived on 13th July 2016, a family of three brought by Antwerp aviation company ‘The Aviation Factory’, using a Bombardier Challenger 300. Basil Read have used many charter flights to rotate its airport staff.

In May 2017 a charter flight was organised by the Government of St Helena to bring home Saints stranded in Cape Town by a breakdown of The RMS St Helena (1990-2018). Flight SA8878, a British Aerospace 146 Avro RJ85, flew from Cape Town via a refuelling stop in Walvis Bay (airport), Namibia, arriving at about 2pm on Wednesday 3rd May. Governor Phillips was on the flight. It then returned to Cape Town to carry people on St Helena who needed to leave.

On 2nd October 2018 the Government of St Helena announced that it had terminated its contract with Basil Read for operation of the Airport and other construction works. Three days later on the 5th it announced that its new company, St Helena Airport Limited, has been certified to operate the Airport. The air service has not been affected by the changeover.

‘Category C’

A vulture boards a flight carrying two dead raccoons. The steward looks and says, I’m sorry - only one carrion allowed per passenger.{o}

Other Flying Things

Below: Aviation OrdinanceDrone Zones MapLargest AircraftMystery Helicopter - Resolved!Airport Game

The Aviation Ordinance

Air Traffic Control Zones

Naturally, the new airport requires restrictions on what else can be flying over St Helena. The Aviation Ordinance was enacted early in 2015 and designates an Aerodrome Traffic Zone ‘ATZ’ (broadly, the approach and departure area) and a Control Zone ‘CTR’ (the immediate vicinity of the airport). The diagram (right) illustrates these.

The rules depend on what it is you intend to fly. In addition to normal aircraft (which, presumably, you will to fly into or out of the airport, so formal Air Traffic Control procedures must be observed), the restrictions also cover:

Whether wind-blown litter is covered is not clear.

The rules also prohibit shining bright lights into the sky, which have the ability to dazzle and disorientate pilots at a time when they are most busy.

You can download a summary of the regulations.

Please Note In December 2019 the permissions for the ‘no fly’ zone were relaxed, allowing a drone to operate in this zone if (a) the activity is for a ‘legitimate research purpose’ (not explained) and (b) St Helena Airport is notified in advance.

Drone Zones Map

Largest Aircraft

Boeing C-17
Boeing C-17{f}

As at the time of writing, the largest aircraft to successfully operate to St Helena Airport arrived on 19th May 2023 - an RAF-operated Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. The aircraft did circuit exercises and achieved a landing, staying overnight and flying off the next day.

The purpose of the exercise was not disclosed and this, inevitably, led to some speculation:

We’ll update the above whan (if?) we are told!

Incidentally, according to The Sentinel: In 2022, this very Globemaster carried the body of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from Edinburgh to RAF Northolt ahead of the sovereign’s state funeral in London.

Mystery Helicopter - Resolved!

Some time ago we posted as below. We are grateful to all the contributors (further below) but are pleased to announce that the mystery has now been resolved. John Coyle contacted us with more information about his photo, as follows:

The photo was taken by me in either 1968 or 1969, when I believe HMS Zulu was in the bay. I am also sending you a better quality scan!

In November 2020 he wrote:

There is absolutely no question that the photo was taken between about June ‘68 and February ‘69, during the time I was on the island! The slide was processed in South Africa in March 1969: at that time, this was the only way Kodachrome transparencies could be developed, there being no facilities on the island. Your correspondent is mistaken.

That’s good enough for us and we now consider the mystery resolved.

Our original query

We have seen the image below, thought to date from the early 1960s, of a Navy helicopter landing on the lawn of Plantation House. We are curious to know what ship launched it and when it was visiting. If you can help, please contact us.

Responses

We received three replies:

  1. My guess is that it’s from HMS Leopard or HMS Lynx, which visited St Helena together 15-17th August 1959 (see www.armedforcessupport.co.uk). I remember the RM Band concert.
  2. Firstly, it appears HMS Leopard and HMS Lynx were Leopard class Frigates, which didn’t have a flight deck, so couldn’t have launched this helicopter. The helicopter is a Westland Wasp anti-submarine helicopter. A helicopter with large number 442 and airframe number XT439 is registered to HMS Zulu. The website helis.com, gives more detail on Westland Wasp XT439. It was in service from 13th December 1965 to 25th March 1986. It was known to have served with 845 Naval Air Squadron; and with 829 NAS on board the frigates HMS Ajax (F114), HMS Zulu (F124) and HMS Rhyl (F129), and possibly others. So we know which helicopter airframe it is, we just don’t know which year or which ship it was from. From photos of Wasps, the paint colour for the numbers seemed to change from white to black in about 1983 (approximately June). XT439 was delivered in 1965, so the photo is between 1965 and probably about 1983.
  3. I looked up XT439 Westland wasp C/N f.9609 on the Helicopter Database www.helis.com/‌database/‌cn/‌213 and the 442 call sign was only used between Aug 1977 until c Jul 1979, whilst it was on board HMS Zulu. On 5th Sept 1977 HMS Zulu departed Her majesty’s Naval Base Devonport in Plymouth as part of Task Group 317.6 for a 7½ month Australia and Far East group deployment, led by HMS Tiger. They would have travelled down the west coast of Africa before going around the Cape before heading for Australia. With that in mind it would have been between 5th September 1977 and 21st April 1978 as per the HMS Zulu’s records.

St Helena Airport Game

St Helena Airport Game from the Google Play™ store

In August 2016 a video game became available on the Google Play™ store, which allowed you to land a (small) plane on St Helena Airport. We were told that the game featured a reasonably realistic portrayal of St Helena…and even incorporated Windshear!

A second airport game was launched in 2018. The new ‘X-Plane’ extension pack allowed users to fly to St Helena Airport with a variety of planes, including two (the Boeing 737-800 and Avro RJ-85) which were only available in the St Helena pack, which also featured realistic St Helena scenery including Jamestown at night. Players could tackle Windshear, which the game’s website said only excellent pilots could manage. More at forums.x-plane.org.

Fake Telephone

The Fake
The Fake

Genuine British Telephones
The Real Thing

One peculiar feature found in the airport’s common area is the fake ‘British Telephone’. This, as can be seen (left) is a not-very-good facsimile of one of the traditional British red-box telephones, but the likeness is poor. Genuine British ‘call boxes’ can be seen in the photograph (right).

St Helena Telephones
Island callbox

In addition to being a poor replica there seems to be no relevance to the item. Traditional British call boxes were never, as far as we know, deployed on St Helena (our call boxes are as shown inner-right), so the object is not even a poor replica of something that was actually ever here.

We have no idea how the fake came to be at the Airport but we think the best thing to do would be to remove it. Maybe it would make a good hen-house…

If you are responsible for the fake, and want to defend the decision to locate it at the airport, please contact us. We’d love to know the thinking behind its placement there and would be delighted to publish your explanation.

Read More

Below: PoemArticle: First commercial flight touches down at St HelenaDid the first flight increase world interest in St Helena?Estimated international arrivals

Poem

From the ground
one sees only the butt ends of the clouds
those bits of the blanket
tucked under.

Flying
one sees across the counterpane
rumpled, morning white
as if the earth had spent another restless night.
{p}{5}

Article: First commercial flight touches down at St Helena

www.itv.com/‌news, 14th October 2017{5}

The long-awaited first scheduled airline service to the British overseas territory of St Helena has landed on the remote South Atlantic island.

True to the much-maligned airport’s chequered history, it was late.

The UK taxpayer-funded development saw 78 commercial airline passengers land just before 2pm on Saturday, approximately 45 minutes behind schedule, following their departure from South Africa.

St Helena Airport, built with £285 million of funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), was due to open last year but the launch of commercial flights was delayed because of dangerous wind conditions.

Further trials were carried out in August and the airport was given the go-ahead to begin operations by South African aviation authorities.

Airlink’s Embraer E190-100IGW aircraft was due to land at 1:15pm local time (2:15pm BST) on Saturday but ended up touching down at 1:58pm (2:58pm BST).

Our Comment: We’d just like to point out that, yes - the plane was 45 minutes late, but that was due to a delay in Namibia. Nothing to do with our ‘much-maligned’ Airport!

Did the first flight increase world interest in St Helena?

To help answer this we present the monthly statistics report for October 2017 for http://sainthelenaisland.info/ (the flight landed on 14th October):{6}

Statistics for http://sainthelenaisland.info/

Estimated international arrivals

The following chart was incorporated into an article ‘Airport Opens Up Opportunities On St Helena’ published on Money Web on 7th November 2013. The article appeared on our page Read articles about St Helena (Older), but has now been archived to our Much Older St Helena Stuff{7} blog. However we thought the data presented in the chart might still be useful.

Estimated international arrivals

Naturally these predictions were based on the original airport plan for one 737-800 flight (approx. 230 passengers) per week.

LOL

Credits:
{a} Governor Lisa Phillips{b} St Helena Travel (group){c} Nick Stevens{d} Neil Fantom{e} Andy Simpson{f} St Helena Airport Limited{g} Tourist Information Office{h} John Coyle{i} Matt Joshua{j} Lord Kelvin, 1902{k} Titan Airways{l} Copyright © South Atlantic Media Services Ltd. (SAMS), used with permission.{m} Dave Barry, in ‘Big Trouble’{n} Firle Davies @thewhirlinzim{o} Anon{p} Roger McGough

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Footnotes:
{1} Titan Airways operated the emergency flight bringing in Covid‑19 medical supplies on 20th April 2020 (when this image was captured).{2} The guns are Royal Navy 32 pounders, manufactured in the 1780s, and were recovered from Banks Battery and restored. More island cannons here.{3} Do you see anything curious about this logo? The symbol is basically a big C with words inside it and an aircraft on the tail. Is it just a coincidence that our airport is officially designated CATEGORY C? We think we should be told… {4} What happens if Walvis Bay (airport) is also unavailable has never been disclosed!{5} @@RepDis@@{6} Please Note at the time Saint Helena Island Info was averaging around 3,500 pages per day. Daily usage has recently reached around 7,600 pages from 3,700 visitors (131,400 ‘hits’) - 1,000GB of data per month.{7} See more blogs.{8} This is a safety measure. If the flight arrives at St Helena but is unable to land due to unexpected bad weather, the nearest diversion airport is Ascension Island, 700 miles away. If this too is unavailable the aircraft must have enough fuel to safely return to Walvis Bay (airport){4}.

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