Airport code dating fly
On the bus to the plane, nobody looks stressed (later, I will be let in on the secret that some of them were hiding it well).
An Airlink representative travels with us, explaining to the entire bus how we will board and sit on the plane, and I wonder: is this a Johannesburg thing, an Airlink thing or is it because this flight is so dangerous we must have the protocol drummed into us in order to survive?
Five years and £285m of UK taxpayer funding later, the airport was complete, only to find there were “operational difficulties” that rendered it non-functional.
Building an airport on a cliffside wasn’t conducive to landing airplanes, it turned out.
New (but slightly less inedible – this is an airline, after all) food is brought onboard, a toilet is unblocked, and one of the business-class passengers hops out to inspect the plane under the wing.
When the first passenger jet – a Boeing 737-800 (in British Airways livery, operated by BA subsidiary Comair) – arrived for a trial run in April 2016, it took three attempts to land: the passengers inside, locals love to tell you, were screaming; the pilot had to sit in a room by himself with coffee and cigarettes for an hour after landing.
It was dubbed the 'world's most useless airport' when safety concerns delayed its opening, but now St Helena is open for business. ” said my neighbour as we were somewhere over the Atlantic, the Namibian coast nipping at our heels. Not bad enough not to fly, but bad enough to only fly with certain airlines at certain times of the day, sitting in certain parts of the plane, performing certain rituals that must be performed for us to stay in the air.
But what's it like flying onto a now notorious runway? I’ve been known to have panic attacks, both on boarding and onboard. So what does the most fearful frequent flyer in the world do to challenge their fear of flying?
And then, in July 2017, it was suddenly announced that flights would start.
Not the large passenger planes connecting London to the island via an intermediate stop, as had initially been envisioned, but 99-seater Embraer jets operated by South African carrier Airlink from Johannesburg.