Monday, 18 April 2016

St. Helena Airport Update

Flight departure board, O.R. Tambo International Airport Johannesburg

Today for the first time St. Helena's name appeared on an airline departure board. A British Airways Boeing 737-800 registration ZS-ZWG, operated by Comair, the actual plane that will be used when commercial flights begin, left Johannesburg and arrived at St Helena this morning.

The Boeing 737-800 making its first landing on St. Helena

This is indeed an historic day for St. Helena, but for my part one tinged with a little sadness.

I feel very privileged to have been able to visit (twice) on the RMS St. Helena before the obliteration of the island's historic isolation.

I do not relish the thought of hen parties and stag nights at Longwood, though I appreciate the importance to the islanders of having quicker access to the medical facilities that South Africa has always provided.

As to the supposed aim of the project, to make the island financially independent from the UK Government, I remain a sceptic.

I am also fearful of the impact of commercial development on the people of St. Helena and fear that it will in time lead to an exodus of many of its poorer inhabitants, unable to compete for already over-priced housing with incomers in private jets with very deep pockets. I know though that St. Helena had no future as a remote and rarely visited museum, and I hope that my worst fears for the future of its inhabitants prove unfounded.

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