Aviation service group Air Partner chartered a return flight from Cape Town to St Helena, the first passenger charter flight to the notorious airport.
St Helena Airport is a difficult place to land aircraft due to wind shear issues and the length of runway available, which means that only certain types can fly there.
The flight was chartered after the cancelation of two RMS (Royal Mail Ship) voyages left a number of passengers stranded. A suitable aircraft was located in South Africa which met all the necessary requirements, and Air Partner’s Commercial Jets team arranged for it to be positioned at Cape Town International Airport on Tuesday for an 8am take-off the following day.
Clive Chalmers, director of Commercial Jets UK at Air Partner, said, “Passengers have now been waiting weeks for a transport solution from Cape Town to St Helena and vice-versa, and so speed was of the essence for this project.
“Our team worked tirelessly to get passengers where they needed to be, as quickly as possible. I am delighted that, after a lot of hard work, we can now add the St Helena government to our long list of government clients.”
There were 50 passengers on board each leg of the journey, with priority given to those travelling to St Helena for work purposes and medical referrals. The outbound flight flew via Namibe in Angola for refueling, while the inbound travelled through Windhoek in Namibia. Despite the notoriously tricky weather around the South Atlantic island, both flights operated within schedule.
Gwyneth Howell, accountable manager and head of operations at St Helena Airport, added, “The team at St Helena Airport did exceptionally well today and we should be really proud of them, everything went as well as we had hoped.
“There will be lessons learned and we will always strive to improve but to everyone, from the St Helena government to SA Airlink to Air Partner and the airport team, I think we all did exceptionally well.”