Tag: ascension

St Helena air service coming soon

The official announcement was delivered today. “That SA Air link are the chosen bidders to provide commercial air services to St Helena”
The long awaited press release from the St Helena Government announcing the successful bidder was somewhat brief and sort of an anticlimax; As it was always apparent who was going to be the preferred bidder after Atlantic Airlines and Cello Aviation was told that they weren’t going to be invited to continue through to the second phase of the tender process. The confirmation came really when SA Air link were chartered to airlift home the stranded passengers from South Africa last month. For this the SA Air link used an identical aircraft the Avero RJ Aircraft that Atlantic Star Airlines used when they landed on St Helena last year.

SHG Air service press release
SHG Air service press release

However, generally the community are now asking when will flights commence but again Government is asking the public to be patient. For most of us patience is wearing thin and there is a feeling in the community that indicates most are seeking alternative means of access. For some they have already taken the decision to don’t travel to and from St Helena at all. Let’s hope that Atlantic Airlines and other providers are not perturbed by disappointment and will soldier on to continue to offer St Helena the alternative service especially for the UK and Ascension links.
The community is greatly aware that Atlantic Star who also submitted a comprehensive bid to offer air services that was designed to grow the travel needs of St Helena, included options to employ saints.

How long will it take the St Helena Government to negotiate the final part of the tender with SA air link. Your guess is as good as mine as the announcement didn’t explicitly say this but more on the lines like how long is a piece of string.
Details of the connecting hub and flight schedules and commencement date is also up in the air so it seems as this we are told also forms part on the ongoing contractual negotiations.
The preferred connecting hub for most saints are Cape Town International in South Africa, this will enable familiar onward travel for most. The original decision however to use Johannesburg as a hub could still be a possibility.
The concerns about Saints living on Ascension and the Falkland Islands remains a big unresolved issue. The possibility of air travel via Ascension to connect with St Helena air travel could be highly unlikely if Ascension Island wide-awake airfield remains closed to commercial aircraft due to ongoing safety concerns with the runway. Though it is generally known that Ascension will remain the alternative airport for St Helena in case of emergency.

So what do we know about SA Airlink.

  • SA Airlink is a South African domestic and regional carrier and it is privately owned and mainly based in Johannesburg.
  • Airlink was formed in 1978 and forms is part of a feeder for SA Airlines some of the aircraft owned by the company are Avero RJ85s, Embraers and BAE Jet streams.
  • Like most airlines airlink have suffered a few incidents and accidents over the years some of which occurred in September 2009, December 2009, defence web in South Africa reported that SA Air link had four incidents in three months.
  • SA Airlink is a member of IATA (International Air Transport Association)
  • SA Airlink have flown to St Helena only a few months ago to bring home stranded passengers when the RMS St Helena experienced mechanical issues.

Do you have any experience of SA Airlink?

What are your thoughts of St Helena’s new Air service?

Are you looking forward to flying to St Helena with SA Airlink?

RMS St Helena film release – The Last Farewell Voyage

In the next few weeks a documentary film entitled; “The Last Farewell” will be released.

The Amatuer video film of the last voyage of the RMS produced by videographer and Island media legend Tony Leo for T.L. Productions will become available for sale shortly

TL productions
TL Productions St Helena Island

St. Helenian born Tony Leo and his wife Diana decided to book an RMS cruise holiday on the last returning voyage to the UK, something neither of them had done before.

Tony thought it would be good to capture the moments of the last voyage to the UK on camera of the Royal Mail Ship St Helena’s Journey (voyage 242)

The RMS St Helena shipping agents announced in May 2015, a year in advance that booking’s for this historic voyage could be made with Solomon’s Shipping Office in Jamestown. After the final decision was made to produce this film of the voyage, Tony began planning well in advance, until he was finally ready for the trip on 22nd May 2016 when the RMS St Helena weighed anchor in James Bay and he departed St Helena for the UK via Ascension Island and Tenerife.

Almost everyone on board were tourists and not the normal saint travellers seeking jobs off shore and returning to work. Having set the story line for this voyage, He started filming at the onset of the voyage and captured all of the activities en-route. At the end of the journey he had captured many hours of footage, all taken in high definition for good quality film production.

RMS St Helena
RMS departing St Helena

Passengers who travelled on board (mostly Saints) had a wonderful time and enjoyed every moment of the journey. The voyage was so memorable, that it was difficult to determine what were the highlights of the voyage.

Was it the London arrival?

Was it the UK departure?

Was it the return to St Helena?

All of this and more was captured on “The last farewell”

“This documentary film of the last remaining Royal Mail Ship, is truly a masterpiece and will become a collector’s item in years to come” said Tony.

This film is a true Saint production.

The cameraman is a Saint.

A saint directed it,

A saint edit, scripted and narrated it.

The film features Two of the Island’s St. Helenian ship captains..

Captain Andrew Greentree and Captain Rodney Young Sadly Captain Young passed away suddenly only months after this voyage. TL Productions sincerely hope you will enjoy watching this 58 minute documentary.


The RMS St Helena

Over the top of The RMS St Helena
Aerial view of The RMS St Helena

The RMS St. Helena was a purpose built ship designed to serve all three islands in the South Atlantic and has been in operation for over 26 years.

The RMS has served the Island well, it has transported just about everybody and everything to St Helena, whether it be a needle, a bulldozer or livestock, it all had to be transported on the RMS…

The RMS has travelled from Cape Town to the United Kingdom and returned, calling at St Helena and Ascension Island. It was and still is the island’s lifeline.

The RMS is subsidised by the British Government and after much debate, Britain decided that the time was right, for the island to be given better access, which resulted in the building of an Airport.

Having the airport with regular tourists visiting, this would kick-start the economy and the benefit deriving from this, would mean economic growth, where Saints would provide all the needs for tourists. The voyage to the UK in May 2016 was the final one for the RMS, after which she would proceed to Cape Town and would then be sold to her new owners. However, during the voyage north, an official announcement was made informing the public that some safety issues were identified at the newly built Islands Airport, wind shear being one of the contributing factors. It was thus decided by the powers that be, that the RMS St. Helena should continue the shipping service to the Islands for another two years, while the airport issues are being sorted out. So what was supposed to have been the final Royal Mail Ship voyage, ending in Cape Town, had then to be rescheduled? The Island will still enjoy the RMS shipping service for another two years but she will be sadly missed when the time comes, for her to finally go off line.

Making of the Film

Meet Tony Leo
Meet Tony Leo – T.L Productions

The financial constraints in the making compilation of this film were huge where additional equipment was necessary, new editing software had to be purchased; a tailor-made computer was sourced to manage the many hours of high definition footage captured on camera of the voyage. A new learning curve, for using new software had to be overcome, plus the crucial decisions on how the film would be mastered for the audience for which it is intended. Tony has made many short documentaries before and he has worked with some of the Island’s key clients such as Enterprise St. Helena, The Education Directorate, Basil Read Construction Company, The National Geographic Magazine. However, he has never produced anything on the scale of this documentary film. During the collation of the film I asked Tony if he had any disappointments relating to its production, he said that there was some material that had to be left out whilst still maintaining the story line.

St. Helena Local and Reach Back St. Helena have been instrumental in the delivery of this film hope you will enjoy this film.

If you have travelled on the RMS St Helena during the time she has been in service, over the last 26 years, then watching this documentary should bring back many happy memories.

To get more information about where and when the film will be available you are recommended to sign up to our mailing list here online.

You can follow us on Facebook and twitter to get regular updates.

You can also use our contact page to get in touch or register your interest here if you would like to know more about when this film becomes available.

Feel free to share this with any of your friends.

A trailer of The last farewell is now available on line.

St Helena travel frustration.

Travel to St Helena by sea and air gets even more frustrating to say the least. The recent news of the RMS with a further problem and the Ascension runway closed for emergency repairs and despite all of this St Helena has an operational airport but no air service. Rumours are on the Streets of Jamestown and across social media stating that the RMS will sail on one engine from Capetown this week as it did on the previous voyage.  Yesterday these rumours were confirmed by a press release from the St Helena Government. St Helena Line has notified the Islands government that a further problem has been detected with the starboard propeller on the RMS St Helena. The problem shows that the starboard propeller blades are locked into a forward position. A decision has been made to continue the voyage to the Island on one engine which will result in a delay to arrival times to the island and also the rest of the voyage.

RMS St Helena
RMS St Helena in Drydock in Simonstown

Regarding Ascension, the government has said that routine flights from the UK to Ascension and the Falkland Islands will not take place from the 14th April until further notice due to safety concerns as a result of ongoing issues with the Islands runway. A number of people are booked to depart Brize Norton (UK) on the 14th and 19th April 2017 to fly to Ascension in time to connect with the RMS for onward travel to St Helena. The press release states that passenger lists are been reviewed and a decision on the best way forward will be announced shortly.

The whole situation is very discouraging and in most cases annoying for travellers and more especially for those who have had to cancel their passages because they are unable to follow through on their planned itinerary.

Cargo operations were ongoing and the RMS was scheduled to depart PM on Friday 14th April (yesterday) however we are waking up to further news that the RMS is still alongside at Duncan dock in Cape town and is due to depart at 10 AM this morning.

Social media reacts as the frustration deepens”.
A Island businessman writes.
“The time has come for SHG to think outside the box!! We have a functioning airport, why not charter an able aircraft that can safely land here…bring in Saints that are now cut off due to Ascension runway and make things a little more positive than this huge negativity? ????”

“The Tannoy announces The RMS will sail to St Helena on one propeller”

Ascension Island Accommodation drought for September.

Ascension Island Government has announced that there is no available Hotel Accommodation available for rent for the first three weeks in the month of September.

The Obsidian Hotel which is located in Georgetown, is the only Hotel on the Island, but the hotel is confirmed as fully booked from the 1st September to the 23rd September 2016. The fully booked accommodation affects visitors that would like to connect with the RMS St Helena sailing to St Helena on the 18th September 2016. Any one transiting via Ascension is required to have confirmed accommodation arrangement’s before an entry permit is issued by The Ascension Government.

Ascension Island is not the usual tourist destination but it is possible to visit using the South Atlantic Air bridge link via RAF Brize Norton.