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Saturday, 14 October 2017 - 15:50
“World’s most useless” airport finally gets flights
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St. Helena’s £ 285mn airport, dubbed the “world’s most useless” after a series of setbacks, will finally welcome its first scheduled service today (14).

An SA Airlink flight from Johannesburg, with up to 68 passengers on board, is expected to touch down on the tiny Atlantic island following a historic seven-hour flight (including a refuelling stop in Windhoek, Namibia).

The British government first announced plans to build an airport on St Helena in 2005, but problems finding a suitable construction firm and financial pressures brought on by the global recession meant contracts were not signed until 2011.

The airport officially opened in June 2016, but with a major proviso: large jets cannot land there due to dangerous winds. On April 18, 2016, a test flight operated by Comair for British Airways saw a Boeing 737-800 need three attempts to make a successful landing, and for more than a year, only small private planes were cleared to use it.

St Helena suits lovers of unspoiled wilderness, nature and wildlife, walkers and, as the location of Napoleon’s imprisonment after the Battle of Waterloo, history buffs.

The climate is mild for much of the year, with temperatures hovering between 20C and 27C, and while English is the main language, the island’s cuisine has Malay and Chinese influences.

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