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The airport at the end of the Earth

The Airport At The End Of The Earth

(CNN) — Almost 0 years ago a British warship transported Napoleon Bonaparte to his exile on the island of St. Helena, a place via where the idea might be impossible for him to escape ever again.

The Airport At The End Of The Earth

Today, Bonaparte might probably find the idea almost as tough to escape via the tiny volcanic island located right inside middle of the South Atlantic.

The Airport At The End Of The Earth

The island is actually one of a string of remote British possessions scattered across the hostile seas in which lie between Africa in addition to South America, the remains of a once mighty empire.

The Airport At The End Of The Earth

the idea’s no exaggeration to say in which reaching St. Helena via Europe takes pretty much as long as in Napoleon’s time.

The Airport At The End Of The Earth

While St. Helena was once a port of call for sailing ships plying the route around the Cape between Europe in addition to Asia, the Suez Canal in addition to maritime advances have left the idea redundant.

The Airport At The End Of The Earth

Until last year, the only regular link to the outside world was RMS St. Helena, the mail ship in which, every three weeks, covers the 5-in addition to-a-half day journey via Cape Town, South Africa.

The Airport At The End Of The Earth

After a rocky start, in which’s set to change — a scheduled commercial air service linking St. Helena to Johannesburg is actually due to start later in which month.

A year of setbacks

In 2016, with much fanfare, St. Helena prepared to inaugurate its first ever airport — nevertheless then an unexpected obstacle got inside way: the South Atlantic winds.

South African airline Comair, a British Airways franchise, planned to start flights to the island in May 2016 using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

However, a serious wind shear issue was detected as soon as the airliner attempted to land.

The wind shear only affects aircraft when landing via the north, nevertheless if the aircraft approaches via the south, there’s a problem with tailwinds.

Prevailing tailwinds mean in which aircraft need a longer runway to land using a full load.

Smaller aircraft can still land, in addition to numerous them have done so — for medical evacuation missions, for example. However, size in addition to weight limitations render the route uneconomic for most airlines.

Atlantic Star Airlines, a start-up founded by former British Airways pilots with the purpose of linking St. Helena to the UK, advocated the use of Avro RJ100 aircraft, a at in which point-aging design in which nevertheless has the capability to land on very short runways.

To demonstrate, last year Atlantic Star Airlines arranged for a former SWISS Avro RJ100 to make a stopover at Saint Helena while on a ferry flight via Zurich to Chile. Although the landing was successful, the Avro option has fallen to the wayside.

Embraer, the Brazilian aircraft any, also threw in its two cents. the idea flew one of its Embraer E190 jets, an airliner with capacity for nearly 100 passengers, via Fortaleza, Brazil direct to St. Helena.

As well as demonstrating the capabilities of in which aircraft type in addition to its suitability for operations inside island, the Brazilian firm’s publicity stunt left us with stunning footage of St.Helena’s natural beauty.

the idea’s actually an Embraer E190 airliner in which will finally take up the task of connecting St. Helena to the outside world by air.

South African carrier SA Airlink has opened ticket sales for its upcoming Johannesburg to Saint Helena flight.

The flight, anticipated to launch on October 21, will have a stopover in Windhoek, Namibia. The aircraft will carry a maximum of 76 passengers, instead of the usual 99, in order to comply with operational restrictions imposed by the tailwinds.

inside meantime, Atlantic Star Airlines has not given up on its project to link the island to Europe.

“We are going to wait in addition to see who the idea goes with the South African route, which is actually government supported. If we can establish there is actually enough demand, we may follow suit with some charter services to the UK” states Richard Brown, Atlantic Star’s CEO

Why the airport matters

At the moment traveling between Europe in addition to St. Helena is actually a costly proposition, both in terms of time in addition to money.

After reaching Cape Town, visitors must spend 5 in addition to half days at sea aboard the RMS St. Helena.

Once on the island, travelers must wait until the ship makes its next visit before they can leave — meaning a month-long trip with no flexibility of dates, a luxury few travelers can afford.

Mostly the idea’s the islanders in which suffer the inconveniences of isolation.

Atlantic Star Airlines expects “Saints,” as the locals are commonly called, to make up most of the air traffic, at least initially.

St. Helena incorporates a population of about 4,500, nevertheless there another 10,000 Saints overseas, mainly inside UK.

Those in which leave the island in order to work or study overseas are often resigned to spending long periods of time away via their loved ones.

No wonder in which anticipation is actually running high among the islanders over the brand-new air service.

A unique island

About 4,500 people live on St. Helena.

Air links are anticipated to have a massive transformative effect on the island’s economy — particularly on a tourism industry in which’s currently limited to a few guest houses.

In many ways, St. Helena is actually a sort of lost paradise.

the idea boasts an unspoiled natural environment with ecosystems ranging via rainforest to desert.

the idea incorporates a picturesque capital, Jamestown, in addition to several historical sites, some connected to the island’s past role as a Royal Navy anti-slavery base.

The most favorite of the island’s sights, though, may well be Longwood House, Napoleon’s last residence on the island.

Locals are already gearing up for the economic boost in which tourism can bring about, with plans to expand the island’s accommodation options in addition to some operators working on special-interest tours.

There may be concerns about the island’s ability to cope using a sudden influx of visitors, nevertheless even at peak capacity St. Helena is actually likely to remain a niche tourist destination.

Its tourist appeal largely depends, after all, on its remoteness in addition to truly unique character.

Despite its tiny size, there is actually no shortage of things to do in addition to see on the island.

Its waters present numerous opportunities for whale- in addition to dolphin-watching.

the idea’s also perfectly suited for stargazing — in fact while on St. Helena astronomer Edmond Halley worked on the first star catalog ever compiled with the aid of a telescope.

Napoleonic heritage

Napoleon died in exile on St. Helena.

One of the most promising tourist markets, though, is actually in which of Napoleon-era enthusiasts.

Even today, in spite of its isolation, St. Helena welcomes a tiny nevertheless regular stream of French visitors who come to see the sites linked to their country’s former emperor, who died in exile on the island.

These include Longwood House, as well as The Briars, Bonaparte’s first residence inside island, in addition to The Valley of the Tomb, where he was buried before his remains were later repatriated.

The number of Napoleon devotees doing the pilgrimage to St. Helena can only be anticipated to improve once the island becomes more easily accessible via Europe.

The Napoleonic Estates also have a peculiarity in which adds to St. Helena’s uniqueness: they’re under direct French administration in addition to enjoy extraterritorial status, doing them French enclaves within British territory.

The French flag flies over them in addition to the French Republic maintains a consul on the island in which takes care of their preservation.

Premium coffee

There’s more than tourism in St. Helena.

Coffee has been grown on the island since the 18th century, when beans were brought all the way via Yemen. The island produces a rare, high-quality coffee whose flavor was praised by Napoleon himself, in addition to is actually currently appreciated by connoisseurs the entire world over.

As coffee beans are particularly sensitive to alterations in humidity in addition to environmental conditions in addition to their quality can decay significantly during the long journey to market, air transport will no doubt facilitate the export of what is actually possibly the island’s most valuable commodity.

in addition to in which’s not all.

SA Airlink will also provide a monthly charter service between Saint Helena in addition to Ascension Island, a route extension in which was previously considered by Atlantic Star Airlines.

Ascension Island, a dependency of St. Helena in which lies about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) to the northwest, has long had an air base with regular Royal Air Force passenger flights to in addition to via the UK, nevertheless the military activity in addition to tiny permanent population means prospects for tourism development are limited.

However, the fact in which quite a few Saints work on Ascension might make the idea feasible to launch commercial flights between the two islands.

in addition to a trip to Ascension could provide the most adventurous travelers with the perfect complement to the St. Helena experience.

Very different via St. Helena, Ascension features different-worldly volcanic landscapes in addition to a unique physical environment in which inspired naturalist Charles Darwin when he stopped here in addition to on St. Helena in 1836.

When looking at St. Helena’s tiny dot on the map the idea’s easy to forget the idea played host to the likes of Napoleon, Darwin in addition to Halley in addition to was once right inside middle of one of the most important trade routes inside entire world.

What geography gave, geography took away in addition to the ocean in which once linked the idea to the epicenters of culture in addition to commerce became, in later times, a formidable barrier.

However, as the island prepares to welcome the first aircraft, St. Helena might soon emerge as the destination of choice for the entire world’s most discerning tourists.

A hidden treasure waiting to be rediscovered.

The airport at the end of the Earth