17 MAY 2021
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Although the British Overseas Territory of St Helena is on the British Government ‘Green’ list local businesses are unlikely to benefit on the loosening of the rules. Or visitors with it on their ‘bucket list’.
The sub-tropical island is halfway between Africa and South America and the final home of Napoleon. An airport was opened 2017, said to cost the British Government £285m. Previously access was by sea from South Africa and the occasional supply ship from the UK. Cargo still comes from the Cape on a regular basis.
There has been a steady stream of flights from that time and a weekly scheduled service out of Johannesburg by Airlink now discontinued due to South Africa being on the UK Government 'Red' list. In the meantime, Airlink has dissolved itself from any association with the bankrupt SAA and is actively pursuing codeshares with major airlines including British Airways. It is keen to welcome UK passengers as soon as conditions allow.
With such a lack of alternative holiday spots a weekly flight from the UK is practical. The island presently served with a regular charter operated by Titan Airways with a Boeing 757 from Stansted, under the auspices and paid for by the St Helena Government.
Whilst accepting that UK residents do not have to quarantine on return, the St Helena administration is still insisting on Brits’ 14-day confinement when arriving although word has it that a reduction to 10 days is on the cards. Providing cautions are taken this position is considered bizarre by many, including the travel industry. The island is Covid free.
Commenting on Mr Shapps announcement Damian Burns, Head of Sustainable Development, St Helena Government, said: “We have re-established in our current arrangement for flights from Stansted for travellers to visit the island, either to come and see us for the first time or to return to friends and family. The first flight available is on the 21 June. The added bonus is on return these important visitors will not need to quarantine once back in the UK.”
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Malcolm Ginsberg, London
Chris, I still don't understand the logic. I would like to come 21June and the two night stay would work for me. And take my wife. It will make for good stories. We have both received two jabs and can take the antigen or PCR tests. Do we then have to get locked up. Even Napoleon was allowed out. And the same for the air crew. St Helena is missing out on business. Nothing will be gained by the 14 goal!
Christopher Pickard, United Kingdom
Flights to-and-from St Helena are currently for resident Saints and people working on the island, who will now benefit when they return to the UK. But being so remote the resident population of the island is very vulnerable to just about any disease, as I saw when cruise ships came in, and so it is not surprising they have taken every possible precaution to keep the island COVID free. Also worth noting that if you did get a seat on the next Titan flight from the UK on 21 June you would either be able to spend two nights on island in quarantine before returning on 23 June, or you would have to stay on the island until the flight on 11 August. Not that you would not be able to enjoy that time on St Helena.
Tim Procter, United Kingdom
I first proposed the Titan B757 operation to the Island 7-years ago to DfID. They rejected it. What comes around ...
James Advance , London
BTN has got the message with this one. Clients can be found for a £5000 week’s holiday in total. No mention of flights to The Falklands. It’s not a tourist place and a lot further.