St Helena Headline NEWS- 24 July 2017 SPECIAL AIR ACCESS EDITION

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What The Saints Did Next

Darrin Henry

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.

EMBRAER E190 WILL BE ST HELENA’S AEROPLANE

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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.

Official St Helena Government Press Release SA AIRLINK TO PROVIDE SCHEDULED AIR SERVICES TO ST HELENA AND ASCENSION ISLAND

St Helena Government and SA Airlink (‘Airlink’) are pleased to announce that they have today signed an agreement for Airlink to provide scheduled commercial air services to St Helena Island. Airlink will also operate a monthly charter service between St Helena and Ascension Island. This follows a period of contractual negotiations with Airlink.

Over the coming weeks, Airlink will be finalising regulatory approvals with the South African Civil Aviation Authority. This will include a proving flight to the Island.

Following the necessary approvals and proving flight, SHG will be able to announce the commencement date for a service between St Helena Airport and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is expected that the monthly service between St Helena and Ascension Island will start soon after and operate on the second Saturday of each month.

There will be a stopover at Windhoek International Airport in Namibia before the flight continues to St Helena Airport. On the return route, the flight will stopover at Windhoek before returning to Johannesburg. On both legs of the journey there will be an opportunity for a connection at Windhoek to a connecting flight to and from Cape Town – this gives flexibility to passengers to go to either destination.

OR Tambo is an international hub and offers connectivity to over 80 airports around the world including to the UK and Europe. Further information about the planned service can be found in the attached Q&A.

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The initial weekly service on a Saturday will be operated using an Embraer E190-100IGW aircraft in a two class configuration (Business Class and Economy) with the flight time from Johannesburg to St Helena being approximately 6hrs 15 mins including a half hour stop in Windhoek.

The agreement with Airlink is for an initial term of three years from the date of the first flight.

HE Governor Lisa Phillips said:

“Undoubtedly, 2017 is the year of positive change for St Helena. Very soon a trip to South Africa, for St Helenians, will take a matter of hours rather than days.  And we will be able to welcome tourists here in larger numbers and improve the economy of the Island and offer a better life for those who live here. 

 “My thanks to everyone who has worked so hard in getting to this point and also my thanks for the funding we received to enable it to happen.  I am confident the future is a bright one.”

Airlink’s CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster, added:

“We are delighted to have reached this milestone and we are extremely excited to be preparing for the proving flight and to the inaugural flight shortly after.  Airlink is confident that our Embraer E190 ETOPS certified aircraft is most suited to the demanding environmental conditions prevalent at St Helena and that we will establish a safe and reliable air bridge between St Helena and South Africa – thereby creating air linkages between St Helena and the rest of the world by way of the interconnectivity offered at Johannesburg.

 “We are pleased to be able to connect both Cape Town and Johannesburg to St Helena by way of designed flight coordination at Windhoek – we acknowledge that Cape Town is an important destination for Saints and we recognise that Cape Town enjoys significant tourism visitations growing at thirty percent annually which could become an important source market for St Helena’s tourism aspirations.”

 Information on the commencement date, ticket sales and details on the cost of fares and sales distribution, including for Ascension Island, will be issued in due course. The fares offered are anticipated to be the same or similar between Johannesburg and St Helena and Cape Town and St Helena.

Airlink is a privately owned airline registered in South Africa.  It is a franchisee to South African Airways. Airlink is a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and as such is IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) accredited. Airlink is a well-established South Africa domiciled airline operating on a comprehensive scheduled network with domestic and regional passenger and cargo services offering more than fifty thousand flights annually.

Ascension Island not left out

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AIR SERVICES TO ST HELENA AND ASCENSION ISLAND

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Click to access Air-Services-to-St-Helena-QandAs-21-July-2017.pdf

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General

St Helena Government and SA Airlink (‘Airlink’) are pleased to announce that they have today signed an agreement for Airlink to provide scheduled commercial air services to St Helena Island. Airlink will also operate a monthly charter service between St Helena and Ascension Island. This follows a period of contractual negotiations with Airlink.

Scheduled Air Services

When is the commencement date for scheduled air services?

Following the necessary approvals and proving flight, SHG will be able to announce the commencement date for a service between St Helena Airport and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Where will the service operate from and to?

The St Helena Air Service will operate from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB). There will be a stopover at Windhoek International Airport in Namibia (WDH) before the flight continues to St Helena Airport (HLE).

On the return route, the flight will stopover at Windhoek before returning to Johannesburg.

In summary, the route is as follows: JNB – WDH – HLE – WDH – JNB

The stopovers at Windhoek have been carefully scheduled so that on both the onward and outbound journeys to/from St Helena, the flight will coincide with the SA Airlink flight between Cape Town International Airport and Windhoek.

Customers will be able to book flights between Cape Town and St Helena and vice versa on a single ticket contract with a short connection at Windhoek. Thus the routing will be:

CPT – WDH (connect) – HLE – WDH – (connect) – CPT

What will be the frequency of the flights?

Initially, the flight will operate on a weekly basis on a Saturday. There is scope for SA Airlink to lay on an additional mid-week flight as demand grows.

How many seats will be available on each flight?

Initially, the maximum number of seats available on each flight will be 76.

How much does a ticket cost? Fares will be announced when ticket sales go live. There will be a number of fare bands, for example, depending on whether a passenger wishes to travel in economy or business class and how far in advance the passenger is making his/her booking. We expect child fares will be 50% of the adult fare price. Further information will follow prior to tickets going on sale.

When will tickets go on sale? This will be announced in due course.

How can I book a ticket? Tickets will be available online via the Airlink website and through all normal IATA global distribution systems. Passengers are advised to contact their IATA travel agent. For those passengers that are resident on St Helena, Airlink proposes to also use local agents who will be able to manage ticket bookings. Further information will follow prior to tickets going on sale.

Will passengers from St Helena be able to catch connecting flights on the same day?

Ultimately this will depend on the passenger’s intended destination. Connections via Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg offers connectivity to over 80 airports around the world. Connections between Johannesburg and Cape Town (and vice versa) Some passengers may also wish to connect from Johannesburg to Cape Town or vice versa. There are around 50 flights per day that connect Johannesburg and Cape Town (and in reverse) and there are options that coincide with the St Helena Air Service arrival and departure times at Johannesburg.

Connections via Windhoek

The stopovers at Windhoek have been carefully scheduled so that on both the onward and outbound journeys to/from St Helena, the flight will coincide with the SA Airlink flight between Windhoek and Cape Town International Airport. Cape Town International Airport also offers flight connectivity to the UK and Europe.

A General Point on Connectivity

Passengers should allow sufficient time to connect with onward flights. There is a minimum one hour connection time at both OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and at Cape Town International Airport. If in doubt, passengers may wish to consider an overnight stop.

Why was Johannesburg chosen over Cape Town as the destination hub in South Africa?

An in depth analysis was undertaken which considered a number of issues, including but not limited to: local preference; airline preference; connectivity; destinations served; seasonal fluctuations in service; fares for direct flights from European destinations and their flight times; access to medical facilities; potential for two centre tourist destinations. It was agreed that the initial service should originate from Johannesburg with connectivity to Cape Town.

If the flight is going to Johannesburg, does this mean that medical referrals will have to go there? Connection to Cape Town will be available from the beginning of operations and can readily be used for services currently rendered in Cape Town for SHG and the Health Directorate. Necessary arrangements to ensure access to services in Johannesburg will also be explored.

What term does the agreement stipulate?

The agreement covers a three year period, with the option to extend for a further two years.

What needs to happen before the service can start?

SA Airlink has already started the process to obtain the final regulatory approvals for the service. In order to comply with the requirements of the SA CAA (South African Civil Aviation Authority), SA Airlink will need to carry out an ETOPS (Extended Range Twin Engine Operations) Proving Flight and more information will follow in due course.

In addition to formal regulatory approvals, there is a great deal of practical planning required and this is already underway. For example, SA Airlink and SHG are in discussion regarding fares and ticket distribution systems.

Passenger Information What is the baggage allowance?

For checked or hold baggage, the general free allowance on SA Airlink flights is 20Kg in Economy Class and 30Kg in Business Class per adult passenger.

In addition to the checked or hold baggage, passengers may carry the following cabin or hand baggage. Each piece should not exceed 8kg.

Economy Class: 1 Piece plus 1 slimline laptop bag Business Class: 2 Pieces plus 1 slimline laptop bag

What is the freight/cargo allowance?

SHG has reached agreement with SA Airlink that in the first instance the priority for cargo/freight will be given to essential services for the Island. A typical example is the Island’s mail which will be given priority over other types of cargo. Any remaining cargo/freight capacity can then be made available.

Cargo transport is currently charged at GBP £1.88 per Kg from Johannesburg or St Helena respectively. Note that this fee will be subject to change from time to time.

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