Saturday, 1 October 2016

St Helen Airport - Napoleon's Revenge?

A first for St. Helena Airport: two planes side by side

The sight of two planes on the tarmac at the island's £290 million pound airport might seem encouraging. Alas one was hired by the airport contractors, and the other was removing someone for medical treatment.

It is nice to know that the airport is usable, although unfortunately not by the commercial aircraft it was designed for. Small planes can land, but the cost for tourists and certainly island residents would be prohibitive.

The economic cost to the island is tremendous. Its whole future was predicated on an expansion of tourism to remove its dependence on subsidy by the British Government.

The Legislative Council has discussed setting up an enquiry to find out who was responsible for this catastrophic decision. Whether it will ever happen is another matter. It would be tremendously costly, would probably not come to a clear conclusion, and would not in any way help to solve St. Helena's problems. It would simply confirm the prejudices of those who live on the island about the incompetence of the "white ants" i.e. expatriates, who are sent to govern them on what seem inflated salaries.

The problem, as most readers of this blog will know is windshear, which the Prime Minister was warned about at the time the decision to build the airport was made. The Guardian has published a useful diagram.

At some point the Government will have to make a decision: invest a lot of money to try and find a technical solution or build a new Royal Mail ship. The favourite technical solution seems to be take the top off one or maybe two nearby mountains! I have a horrible feeling that that might not end well!

Meanwhile the press in the UK and France has started to give the story some publicity. I would be surprised if there are not a few smiles on the continent post the Brexit referendum about another highly embarrassing British cock-up. Some on social media have described it as Napoleon's revenge, which seems a bit hard on the long suffering Saints.

The Daily Mail has published an image which is I guess worth a thousand words.

1 comment:

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