The lives of the inhabitants of the British island of St. Helena changed on Saturday, October 14, forever: the first commercial flight landed on this lost ground of the South Atlantic where Napoleon died in exile. A landing that puts an end to centuries of isolation.
The St Helena airport in the Atlantic Ocean had never been flown by a regular route, but the island government had recently announced that it would be served by Airlink from Johannesburg.
It is now done. St. Helena International Airport, known as the “most useless airport” in the world by the British media, recorded its first commercial flight.
The distant British island of St. Helena with a surface area of 122 km2 is a tropical volcanic island located halfway or almost between Africa and Latin America.
Airlink’s SA8131 flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, after a stopover in Windhoek, Namibia, landed at this airport at 13:15 GMT Saturday, with 78 passengers on board. This flight thus put an end to the island’s dependence on a ship once every three weeks.
It is hoped that this service, financed by the United Kingdom, will stimulate tourism and help to make Saint Helena more autonomous.
Built with £ 285m (€ 318m) funding from the UK’s Department for International Development (Dfid), it should have opened its doors last year, but dangerous weather conditions have delayed the launch.
After further testing this summer, the weekly service between Johannesburg and St. Helena was adopted.
So far, this British territory has been one of the most inaccessible places in the world, only served by a South African ship.
The island is mostly recognized as the place where the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte exiled himself to die after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
The facility will thus reduce the travel time from five days to six hours to reach this British overseas territory.