Celebrated with St Helena and South African flags flown at the windows of the plane, along with a water cannon arch upon landing, the chartered Airlink service brought 34 passengers to the island’s newly built – and only – airport. The journey from Johannesburg took six hours in total, with a fueling stop in Namibia’s Windhoek.
Officials spent £285 million on building the St Helena airport, which was constructed as a means to encourage more tourist arrivals on the island. With this air service from Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively, the island is expected to receive 10,000 annual visitors in the first year, including those arriving via eight cruise ships scheduled for 2018.
Helena Bennett, director of tourism for St Helena, said: “We’re continuously promoting St Helena as a new flight destination and highlighting our key niche markets of history and heritage, and natural beauty and adventure.” From its capital, Jamestown, guests can take whale-shark or dolphin trips, guided walks, historical tours, nature-based excursions and sample food from myriad restaurants, pubs and coffee shops.
Bennett added: “The team is building strong relationships with international tour operators and engaging in international travel and trade shows to ensure St Helena is kept in the minds of long-haul holiday buyers looking for a sense of adventure.”