Island airport plan is on track, insists governor
13 / 06 / 2016
The Governor of St Helena has firmly denied reports that opening of the island’s new airport has been scrapped or postponed indefinitely because of wind shear problems.
In fact, the airport is already officially operational, having handled an emergency medevac flight on 4 June to fly a sick baby to Cape Town, insists island Governor Lisa Phillips.
The Governor admitted that there are wind shear “challenges” on one runway which means that larger planes such as the 737-800 cannot currently land safely.
“We are collecting wind data which will allow larger planes to land on this runway, but this will take some time,” she said, pointing out that wind shear is a factor at several airports around the world, “including London City Airport, where safe landings happen every day.”
In the meantime, the airport is pushing ahead with an interim solution to use the second runway, which has no wind shear but has tailwind issues.
Phillips said: “We have identified aircraft types which can land in these conditions, and airlines that have such planes – and we are now exploring the specific availability of aircraft with these airlines.”
In November 2011, St Helena Government signed a £201.5 million design, build and operate contract with South African property and civil engineering firm, Basil Read.
The airport would end the isolation of St Helena, whose sole scheduled link with the outside world was until recently the UK Government’s last mail boat, the RMS St Helena, which maintained a link with Cape Town.
However, the St Helena’s sailing schedule, which was due to end in June, has now been extended until September, pending the opening of the airport to regular flights.