The St Helena airport is under construction since early 2012 and is scheduled to open in February 2016, by which time the RMS Saint Helena, the only regular ship to call at St Helena, will be retired.
A total amount of £201.5 million has been funded by the British government for design and construction of the airport which will be carried out by South African engineering group Basil Read (Pty) Ltd. Additional funds of up to £10 million in shared risk contingency, and £35.1 million for ten years of operation by South-African airport operator Lanseria Airport have also been granted by the UK Government.
The airport will be the largest single investment ever made in the island.
Saint Helena has a known history of over 500 years since its recorded discovery by the Portuguese in 1502.
Claiming to be Britain’s second oldest colony, it is one of the most isolated islands in the world and was for several centuries of vital strategic importance to ships sailing to Europe from Asia and South Africa. For several centuries, the British used the island as a place of exile, most notably for Napoleon Bonaparte.
Most historical accounts state the island was discovered on May 21, 1502 by the Galician navigator João da Nova sailing at the service of the Portuguese Crown, on his voyage home from India, and that he named it Santa Helena after Helena of Constantinople.