23 MARCH 2015

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Article from BTNews 23 MARCH 2015

South Atlantic airport

The Government of Saint Helena (a British Overseas Territory) announced this week the appointment of Comair Limited as the preferred bidder for air service provision to the Atlantic island.

A small fortune has been spent on building the island airport, with build already over budget. Whilst the airport was conceived to encourage tourism and make it easier for Saints to travel, it’s questionable whether the appointment of Comair will.

The new route, which travels weekly to Johannesburg, means that Saints will have to take a five-hour flight before they go anywhere. For tourists a flight to Johannesburg is required before a connection, that’s a long way round from the UK. The Saints have a strong affinity with the Falkland islanders where many seek work. Access is from RAF Brize Norton in the UK so you’d think a flight that would encourage tourism, enable economic growth and allow international transfer of skills would have been the government’s preferred option. But no, despite a bid from a UK-carrier offering direct UK flights via Africa’s west coast; an easier, quicker and, on macro economic levels, perhaps wiser option; the bid has gone to the cheapest seats.

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