25 November 2022
Following the market knowledge gained in 2019/2020 when additional flights to St Helena were operated from Cape Town, SHG has been exploring whether or not it might be possible to operate flights to and from Cape Town on a more regular basis.
This followed an Enterprise St Helena (ESH) Tourism Study conducted in April 2020 that recommended moving flights to Cape Town during summer months. In April 2022, the Government was then presented with a petition requesting that the operating base for the Airlink scheduled air services from South Africa be moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Meetings between SHG and Airlink have taken place on a number of occasions during this time, culminating in discussions in early October.
Recognising the merits of both destinations, discussions have focused on using Cape Town as a hub during the summer months of November to April with Johannesburg, Airlink’s main operational base, being used from May to October.
Both parties agreed that this would be beneficial to the Island and the air service, and are therefore looking to implement this as soon as is practical. However, given the current service operates from Johannesburg, a number of logistical and regulatory issues have been identified which will need to be addressed before a new schedule can be put into operation.
Airlink remain very supportive in seeking a solution and work is already underway.
Further consultations between the airline and the South African Civil Aviation Authority are however required in order to obtain the necessary approvals for the proposed operation. Whilst these will be taking place early next year, it will not be possible to implement the changes in time for next year’s peak season, beginning in November 2023. This is because the international flight schedule is published 12 months in advance, meaning that the schedule will already be published before Airlink has been able to go through the regulatory approvals process.
Assuming that there are no unexpected issues with regulators, it is hoped that the Cape Town service can begin operating from November 2024.
Whilst it is disappointing that the service cannot be implemented sooner, the additional time will provide more opportunity to undertake planning and marketing to ensure that the potential presented by these changes can be maximised.
Minister for Treasury, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development Mark Brooks said:
“I’m very pleased that both parties have worked together to move this one step closer. There’s still some outstanding issues that need to be addressed, but assuming these go through without any hitches we can look forward to flights arriving and departing St Helena for Cape Town in the next few years. This will restore the traditional link between St Helena and Cape Town that the Island enjoyed for so many years under the RMS Helena service, whilst also building on the link with Johannesburg, Africa’s largest and busiest airport.”
25 November 2022