The isolated island of St Helena gets an air link to the world


Saint Helena, is one of the most isolated islands on the planet. You might ask where is it? Well it is in the South Atlantic Ocean, 1,200 miles off the coast of south-west Africa. It is a tiny British territory measuring 10 miles by five. It has approximately 4500 inhabitants. The locals are  descendants of “sailors, settlers and slaves” from Europe, Asia and Africa. The locals call themselves “Saints.”

Why is this island so isolated? Up until October, the only way to get to this island has been by sea. It is a 5-6 day voyage from Cape Town on the Royal Mail ship (RMS St Helena). This ride can cost up to £4,138 ($5500) making it almost unaffordable.

RMS St Helena Ship

Due to this isolation, life on the island is very slow. The locals only got mobile phone reception in 2015. Internet services are costly and slow. Their cuisine, culture, customs and dialect are very unique to the rest of the world.

The island depends on the financial support it receives from the British government.  The British government sanctioned the construction of an airport that would help connect the people of St Helena to the world and boost tourism.

After five years of construction and controversy, in 2016 the tiny British island welcomed its first scheduled commercial flight in October 2017.

Travellers and passengers get off the first commercial flight from Johannesburg after landing at the newly built Saint Helena Airport on the remote British island.

The SA Air Link flight will be a weekly flight that takes off from Johannesburg with a stop in the Namibian capital, Windhoek. It will carry upto 78 passengers and the flight time to Jamestown, the capital of St Helena will be approximately 6 hours and 15 minutes.

Jamestown, St Helena Photo Credit:

Along with this new air link, the first luxury hotel on the island, the 30-bedroom Mantis St Helena opens in Jamestown. The people of St Helena hope that this service will boost its tourism industry, creating the opportunity to increase its revenues and less reliance on financial support. They will also benefit from quicker access to healthcare for those living on the island.

Longwood House was the residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, during his exile on the island of Saint Helena

Did you know? French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in St Helena after his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This is also where he died.


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