All eyes from around the world was on St Helena Island as SA Airlink inaugural flight from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg touched down at the St Helena Airport at 14.00 GMT October 14th 2017. Slightly later than originally planned but none the less this is the start of the weekly commercial service to St Helena from the outside world.
HE Governor Lisa Phillips greeted the 72 passengers as they disembarked the Embraer E190-100IGW aircraft whilst the majority of the island’s population watched from the viewing deck to witness this historic occasion.
Tour Operators from Eastcape Tours, Get Africa Travel, Springbok Atlas, and Island Holidays took the opportunity to take the first commercial flight to St Helena. Amongst the passengers were International media from the BBC, ITV, The Times, Thomson Reuters, Associated Press.
Shortly after the arrival a press conference with the visiting media (can be found here) took place in the terminal building. Eventually, the passengers made their way to their hotels and guesthouses which included some who are staying at the new Mantis Jamestown Hotel.
A full itinerary has been organized by the St Helena Tourist Office for the visitors which offers tours to some of the Islands tourist hotspots including a visit to Napoleon’s house, and marine tours on Sunday to see whales and Dolphins on the leeward side of the Island.
Enterprise St Helena and St Helena tourism had also scheduled various meetings to speak with investors who had arrived to look at opportunities here on the Island.
Governor Phillips invited arriving guests to a reception at plantation house to celebrate to what she describes as a proud and momentous occasion for St Helena.
The local community radio station Saint FM presented a special remote live broadcast from the arrivals terminal at the airport where they interview many passengers who just arrived on the aircraft. This broadcast was streamed live worldwide over the internet, which attracted hundreds of listeners.
Immediately after the landing social media sprang into life with live pictures and videos. The BBC broadcast their live report of the event on their world service and TV news at 10 back in Europe. The reporters described their amazing trip to the Island and a how St Helena would benefit from the commercial air service and also some history to the airport project.
This morning the marine tours operators departed the pier head with their visitors hoping to show off St Helena’s marine potential to the tourism market.
The flight is due to depart St Helena at 14.30 GMT Sunday the 15th October.