Sitting right in the middle of the South Atlantic, an island has been given a new flight to make international visits a little easier.

As one of the hardest places in the world to reach, St Helena has received a new service from New York to make the remote volcanic island much easier for tourists to visit.

United Airlines has introduced a new non-stop flight service from New York/Newark to Cape Town, beginning in mid-December this year, which will allow tourists to then connect to St Helena via regional South African airline Airlink, reports.

The new flight route to the "end of the earth", however, will be scarce, operating just once a week on a Tuesday excluding Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. But while the route may sound infrequent, it's a welcome addition to the island that until 2017 didn't have a single commercial flight service at all.

Sitting on hillside above Jamestown, St Helena. Photo / 123RF
Sitting on hillside above Jamestown, St Helena. Photo / 123RF

Prior to the new service, the 4500 community could only have contact with the outside world through RMS St Helena, the mail ship that covered the five-and-a-half day journey from Cape Town, South Africa to the island every three weeks.

It's not the first time an airline has tried to establish flights in and out of the island.

According to CNN, South African airline Comair, a British Airways franchise, planned to start flights to the island in May 2016 using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

But after some investigations, a wind shear issue was detected as soon as the airliner attempted to land, causing a problem with tailwinds as the planes approached from the south.

After a few other airline interests, including Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer and Atlantic Star Airlines, it wasn't until Airlink finally stepped in to launch its St Helena to Johannesburg flight in 2017 that the island was connected to the outside world by air.

Using an Embraer E190, the flight carried a maximum of 76 passengers to manage the tailwinds. But this new connection will allow more people to access the island, which only has around 4500 inhabitants.

The remote island ranges from desert to rainforest terrain, allowing visitors a glimpse into an "untouched paradise" offering both whale and dolphin watching.

But the island also holds a dark history, being the final resting place for Napoleon Bonaparte.


In 1815, the British chose to exile him to the island because of how remote it was. He remained imprisoned there until his death, believed to be from stomach cancer, in 1821.

This history locals say will act as a tourism drawcard for history buffs – and especially for French visitors.