7 December 2022
Today, Wednesday 7 December 2022, is International Civil Aviation Day, when the world recognises the social, economic and developmental benefits of aviation and international air travel.
It provides a chance to acknowledge the flight industry’s influence on modern life. Flying has made the world a much smaller pace and had a huge impact on our lives. This is especially so in St Helena. St Helena Airport opened in 2016 with the scheduled airline commencing flights in 2017. Prior to this time, it took five days to reach St Helena from South Africa. This is now reduced to just six hours. In its five years of operation approximately 31,500 passengers have used the Airport, whether that be tourists or family and friends that might not otherwise have been able to make it due to the time travelling by sea.
Whilst this has had a significant impact on the lives of travellers, the most dramatic impact it has had is on the ability to provide medical evacuation when needed. Since 2016, 63 medical evacuations have taken place from St Helena, providing those patients with access to vital lifesaving care abroad. The Airport has also had nine medical evacuation technical stops for patients evacuated from Ascension.
St Helena has now returned to ‘business as usual’, reconnecting with the world in the realms of the post-pandemic ‘new normal’, with a view to restarting and rebuilding the visitor economy. The tourism sector is a critical part of the Island’s developing economy, and prior to the pandemic was estimated to generate up to £6.7m annually, in which the Airport plays a crucial role.
As the aviation industry continues to innovate and bring cultures closer together, International Civil Aviation Day offers the chance to celebrate the impact of flying and be thankful that it has opened so many doors for all of us.
Deputy Head of Civil Aviation, Tessa Roberts, said:
“Aviation / air transport is key to connecting our remote Island to the rest of the world. We continue to strive to maintain and develop air services to and from St Helena to enable economic and social progress. We’re looking to develop more consistent links with Cape Town, to diversify the offering to tourists and Islanders alike, and continue to invest in our Airport critical infrastructure, as had been seen by the recent announcement of additional funding for the Airport Fire Service and the Sea Rescue Service.”
7 December 2022