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The remote South Atlantic island of St Helena has had only one connection with the world for centuries. Until now, if you wanted to travel there, you had to go by boat. That boat, the RMS St Helena, takes two to five days to reach its nearest ports of call, in Ascension Island and Cape Town, South Africa, respectively. But a recently announced air route will shorten the travel time to about six hours.

St-Helena-Map
Image created with Google Maps.

St Helena Airport (HLE) was built on St Helena to replace the nautical service, but once it was completed, it was discovered that severe winds on the island could pose a danger to aircraft when landing. The project was first announced in 2005 and cost about 285 million British pounds. The boat service was slated to end once airline service began, but due to the delay of airline service, the RMS St Helena has continued to provide transportation for passengers and cargo goods.

The island has finally received its first scheduled airline service. A South African carrier called Airlink will offer service from St Helena to Johannesburg and Cape Town each Saturday, with a stop in Windhoek, Namibia, using an ETOPS-certified two-class Embraer 190 jet (shown in the video above). The journey will take about six hours each way.

RMS St Helena. Image courtesy of St Helena Tourism Board.
RMS St Helena. Image courtesy of St Helena Tourism Board.

Airlink expects to start service to St Helena in October, but the carrier is still going through the governmental approval process. It has not announced a firm schedule, or what the fares will be. Airlink is a privately owned carrier, founded in 1995, and it currently serves 30 destinations in southern Africa. It’s partnered with Star Alliance member South African Airways, so passengers will be able to connect in Johannesburg to almost any part of the world.

St Helena may not be easy to get to, but the small volcanic island is breathtakingly beautiful. You can check out a gallery of photos from its tourism board here.

Featured image courtesy of Airlink. (Aircraft pictured isn’t the same model that will fly the aforementioned route, but no photos of their E190s are available).

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