St Helena Airport step closer to operating as final RMS journey on the horizon

2016-05-12 13:00 - Louzel Lombard
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Cape Town - Another major milestone for St Helena was achieved when Air Safety Support International (ASSI) issued an Aerodrome Certificate to the island's first ever airport on Tuesday afternoon, 10 May. 

This follows a final inspection of the Airport by an ASSI team last month, after the first large passenger jet touched down on the island. 

ASSI concluded that they were satisfied with the Airport infrastructure and aviation security measures, and found air traffic control service complies with international aviation safety and security standards. 

This Airport Certification from ASSI, however, does not give the go ahead for operational readiness at the airport. Operational readiness - monitoring and clearing issues like wind shear and turbulence mitigation - is a separate issue which still needs to be addressed before the commencement of flights, the St Helena government said in a report.

"Work is continuing on operational readiness at St Helena Airport, including the work that is now underway to manage issues of turbulence and wind shear experienced by the Comair Implementation Flight," the government said.

"ASSI is aware that these operational issues are still to be addressed and will be discussing them with the Airport operator and other stakeholders over the coming weeks. Commercial operations will not commence at St Helena Airport until we have concluded this work."

Ahead of the commencement of scheduled air services, the objectives of the Implementation Flight include route assessment, airside operations, passenger and cargo handling, training and various aspects of safety at St Helena Airport.

The St Helena government says, "Every effort is being made to start Airport operations at the earliest opportunity. However, safety is paramount and we will not commence commercial operations until we are satisfied with every aspect of Airport operations."

St Helena’s first Aerodrome Certificate from ASSI is valid until 9 November 2016, at which point the Airport will need to be re-certified.

The commencement of airport operations will also mean the end of the RMS St Helena's operations to and from the Island. 

The long good bye to this golden era of iconic sailing, will see the 6 700-ton vessel embark on a voyage to London.

Christopher Pickard, Director of Tourism for St Helena told Traveller24 , the RMS sailed from Cape Town on its 242 voyage on 7 May.

"She visits St Helena then goes to Ascension, back to St Helena, before sailing from Jamestown on 22 May for London (via Asecension and Tenerife). She is scheduled to arrive in London on 5 June at Tilbury. She will then sail up the River Thames on 7 June and berth next to the HMS Belfast, opposite the Tower of London."

Pickard confirmed that a number of events and receptions will be held on the ship before she goes back to Tilbury, with the public being allowed to visit the ship on 11 June and 14 June before she departs the UK for the last time. See more details here.

The boat is scheduled to be back in Cape Town on 15 July, which will be the last scheduled cruise of the ship. 

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