A special Airbus A318 from Titan Airways has taken Covid-19 tests to the Atlantic island of St. Helena. It was a first for the European aircraft manufacturer.
The island St. Helena in the South Atlantic is as far away from the African mainland as Hanover is from Moscow. The island where Napoleon was once imprisoned lies isolated far out in the ocean. Normally the South African airline Airlink flies once a week from Johannesburg via Walvis Bay in Namibia to St. Helena. Between December and February there is a seasonal connection to Cape Town.
But due to the Corona crisis, the last Airlink flight to St. Helena took place on 21 March. Since then the island, which belongs to the British overseas territory, has been even more cut off. Covid-19 tests have not yet been available. Although two suspected cases occurred, those affected with mild symptoms have recovered after quarantine.
First Airbus on St. Helena
On Monday (20 April) a charter flight from Great Britain has landed on the island. The Airbus A318-100 of the charter airline Titan Airways with only 32 business class seats flew from London via Accra and Ascension to St. Helena. The jet with the registration G-EUNB brought 960 Covid-19 tests, medical equipment and personnel. The flight also brought back residents who were previously stranded in the UK.
Titan Airways stated that «it was the first Airbus ever to land at St Helena Airport». The airport is not suitable for every aircraft. The runway is too short for long-haul jets. Approaches from the north are notorious for their shear winds, and approaches from the south often have tailwinds. Airlink flies to St. Helena with an Embraer E190. According to current plans, it plans to resume service on 25 April for the first time.
Special corona rules
Special rules now apply at the airport of the 5000-population island: Passengers must leave the plane in small groups and wear masks and gloves. After their body temperature has been measured, they are taken to a quarantine facility where they spend 14 days. The crew will also stay there until the return flight.