Saint Helena airport – expensive mistake?

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Saint Helena is a remote Atlantic volcanic Island, nearly 2000 Km from mainland Africa. Saint Helena is a British overseas territory having a population is 4255, according to a census eight years ago.

The location of Saint Helena

Still today, the only transport connection to the outside world is by the ship RMS Saint Helena from Cape town, departing twice a month. The trip takes five days. RMS Saint Helena is set to be retired by the end of the year.

In contrast, a flight would take only about 3-4 hours. After years of planning, the airport construction commenced in 2012 and the airport was completed this year. Building an airport at this island was not an easy task. The island is highly rugged, and there is very limited space for a runway.

But only after the first test flights by commercial airlines it emerged wind conditions there are very difficult, even dangerous. Plans to start commercial traffic to the airport had to be put on hold. Now they have an airport, that cost £285 million, but no traffic there!

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JamboJet to Ukunda

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JamboJet, the low-cost arm of Kenya Airways recently announced three new coastal destinations: Lamu, Malindi and Ukunda. Given poor foreign tourist numbers recently in the Kenyan coast, I wonder how these routes will do.

JamboJet DASH8-400 at Ukunda Airport in April, 2015.
JamboJet DASH8-400 at Ukunda Airport in April, 2015.

Ukunda Airport, located right next to Diani Beach, is a small airport, not far away from Mombasa Airport, but since the South Coast has always been a bit isolated due to the ferry crossing, Ukunda as a flight destination should be welcomed by any visitors to South Coast. Ukunda has been to date served by other airlines like AirKenya and Fly 540, but only at steep prices. JamboJet flights to Ukunda start from around 5000 Ksh one way. Any checked luggage will add to the cost, but at 500 Ksh per 15 Kg bag a way, the price is not bad at all. Read the rest of this entry »